Buriram United sent out a message to their Thai League (T1) challengers as they saw off Port FC with a clinical performance on Matchday 14.
A 3-1 victory put the champions top of the league in the middle of a season in which they have rarely looked at their best.
Meanwhile, Alexandre Gama’s Muang Thong United reign got off to an awful start as the Kirins lost at Chonburi.
Here are three things we saw in T1 Matchday 14.
- Buriram take the sting out of Port
Momentum had been building at Port FC as the club from Klong Toey sat on top of the table and stirred hopes that this could be their year.
It took less than two minutes for Buriram to puncture that momentum on Sunday when Andres Tunez slotted home a penalty. There were further near misses around the home side’s goal in the opening five minutes as Buriram served notice that they had come to Bangkok to teach Port a lesson.
In a breathless first half, Port fought back but struggled to create clear chances as Buriram’s high energy pressing forced them into mistakes.
Sergio Suarez’s equaliser at the start of the second half offered hope, but Buriram quickly responded with strikes from Pedro Junior and Chitipat Thanklang.
Photo credit: Buriram United
Port continued to fight valiantly but they were undone by their own slackness in the final third or by some dubious refereeing decisions which saw them denied at least one clear penalty. Buriram had several chances to add a fourth on the break but that would have painted a misleading picture of the match.
Nevertheless, Buriram always looked the stronger team and, despite some poor performances this year, they are clearly still the team to beat. Sunday’s match suggested that another T1 title will be on its way to the northeast.
- Muang Thong back at the bottom
The appointment of head coach Alexandre Gama was supposed to give Muang Thong United the spark they needed to work their way out of the relegation zone. It was new boss but same old story, however, as Chonburi defeated the Kirins 2-0. Kritsada Karan’s stunning long-range effort put the hosts in front before a neat finish from Panupong Phonsa sealed the three points.
The Sharks’ new head coach Sasom Pobprasert may have been a less eye catching appointment but the veteran Thai managed to lead his talented but inconsistent side to victory.
Photo credit: Chonburi FC
Gama still has time on his side to instill the defensive discipline and fighting spirit that his team will need to rise to safer ground but the troubles clearly run deep. The transfer window will be an important opportunity to bring in players who can inspire an upturn in fortunes.
The current squad is not short of talent but Gama will need all of his powers to ensure that they do not go the way of Bangkok Glass last year.
- Vander shows what has been missing
Vander Luis looked sharp at the start of the season and his partnership with Nelson Bonilla was set to be a key feature of Bangkok United’s campaign. However, an injury sustained on Matchday Two put him out of action for almost three months.
His return has come at a crucial time for the Bangkok Angels and he delivered when it mattered on Sunday, with Bonilla on international duty. After a testing first half at home to Ratchaburi, Vander’s calm strike put Mano Polking’s side ahead.
Photo credit: Bangkok United
A late second secured the three points and demonstrated just what the club have been missing in his absence. Bangkok United stay in second place, gaining three points on second-placed Port and now sitting just four points off top spot.
You wonder how different things might have been in the tight matches they have drawn and lost if a flair player like Vander had been around.