Bangkok United and Port FC are making the early running as two of the title favourites earned their second victories on Thai League (T1) Matchday Two.
Thossawat Limwannasathian’s volley gave Bangkok United a 2-1 victory in a tight contest at Muang Thong United, while Port FC beat Samut Prakan City 4-1 at the PAT Stadium. They are joined on six points by the unlikely pair of Police Tero and Ratchaburi, who won at Trat and Sukhothai respectively.
Buriram United got back to winning ways, while champions Chiang Rai United struggled again.
Here are five things we saw on T1 Matchday Two.
1. Thossawat breaks Muang Thong resistance
To win titles, you have to win games like this and Bangkok Untied must have known that this was an early test of their mettle. Muang Thong United may not be team they were in the second half of last season, but with Alexandre Gama in charge of a side full of promising young players, this was always going to be a tough match at the SCG Stadium.
And tough it proved. Anon Amornlerdsak deservedly put the visitors ahead but they let the hosts back in the game and Sardor Mirzaev appeared to have levelled for Muang Thong with an excellent strike, only for a VAR review, which seemed to take forever, to rule out the goal for handball in the build-up.
The Bangkok United injury curse struck again and Manuel Bihr was replaced by Everton Saturnino – left on the bench because he was just returning from injury. Everton would make an unfortunate contribution as his backpass was not read by Michael Falkesgaard and ended up in his own net.
It had become a scrappy and error-strewn game and Muang Thong’s aggression early in the second-half was paying off. But a rare goal from Thossawat earned Bangkok United a big three points. They have now won twice without playing particularly well, which surely suggests they can mount a sustained challenge.
2. Port put on another four show
At the end of a dramatic 90 minutes at the PAT Stadium, Port FC had claimed their second 4-1 home victory in a row, the woodwork had been struck three times, and refereeing competence was called into question again as VAR was the crutch relied upon for the awarding of two goals and a penalty.
Samut Prakan City were Port’s victims this week, but in the early stages they looked well equipped to take something from this game, with intense pressing forcing the hosts into several errors.
Go Seul-ki’s opening goal – awarded after an absurdly long review – came just as Port were getting into the game, but Samut Prakan’s equaliser from Chaiyawat Srinawong was deserved – a VAR review confirming that the ball had crossed the line.
But Port stepped up a gear early in the second half and Pakorn Prempak’s free kick apparently grazed Sergio Suarez’s forehead on its way into the net before Suphanan Bureerat’s handball was penalised – after a long VAR review, of course – and Heberty Fernandes smashed the resulting penalty high into the net.
Samut Prakan responded but were not clinical enough in front of goal, and substitute Adisak Kraisorn put a very flattering gloss on the scoreline by adding a fourth in added time.
Port may receive a sterner test in Wednesday’s match at Sukhothai but six points on the board and eight goals scored is an excellent start to the T1 campaign, following the pessimism generated by the AFC Champions League (ACL) defeat to Ceres Negros and the Champions Cup loss to Chiang Rai Utd.
3. Suphanat return spurs Buriram
Buriram United kicked off their bid to regain the T1 title with a toothless performance in a 1-0 defeat at Police Tero. The club management had seen it more fitting to have the precocious talent of Suphanat Mueanta turning out for the U18 side in the week leading up to the season opener and he was left out of the first-team squad.
Against Chonburi on Saturday, the 17-year-old showed the kind of dynamic movement in attack that his team had been missing last week and within six minutes he had created the opening goal for his older brother Supachok Sarachat.
Supachok added a second before he was pulled back on the edge of the box – resulting in a red card for Junior Lopes. After Ricardo Bueno added a third, it looked grim for the ageing limbs of the Chonburi side when they went 4-0 behind in the 57th minute, as Narubadin Weerawatnodom’s thunderous finish capped off an excellent counter-attack.
The Sharks had started the match with an average age of 31 and it looked like the home side might run up a big score. But Buriram soon replaced Suphanat with Supachai Jaided and there were no more goals.
While it is important to ensure that Suphanat does not burn out, it is clear that he is already a very important member of this Buriram squad. He has surely played his last game for the U18s…
4. Chotipat covers up Chiang Rai’s cracks
It was all very unlike Chiang Rai United in the early stages of their match at home to Suphanburi on Saturday. With just 16 minutes gone, they were 2-0 down, their defence having been ripped to shreds twice.
Eliandro – surprisingly not picked up by a bigger team after an impressive 2019 at Chiang Mai – created the first for Kasidech Wettayawong with a sublime pass, and then added the second with a clever first-time finish.
Having seen their side suffer two defeats in the ACL and take just a point from their opening T1 match, the fans were understandably concerned. It had looked like business as usual for the champions when they outmuscled Port FC in the pre-season Champions Cup, but the club’s apparent financial woes saw the eccentric decision to recruit Masami Taki as head coach and let the inspirational William Henrique join Prachuap FC.
It is beginning to look like participation in the ACL is already taking its toll, while Taki’s body language does not suggest that he has confidence in his abilities.
Sanukran Thinjom pulled one back before Chotipat Poomkaew headed home the equaliser in the fifth minute of added time. This may prove to be a turning point after a difficult two weeks but it was an unconvincing performance for a team renowned for its toughness and organisation.
5. Murillo magic lifts Swatcats
Nakhon Ratchasima has the potential to be the biggest club in Thailand, with a fan base that just needs some sustained progress on the pitch to turn out in big numbers every week. Consistent mediocrity hinders their development and the need to upgrade their stadium, forcing a run of five games on the road to begin the 2020 campaign highlights how the club is run.
A 4-1 loss at Port FC saw grey clouds gather at the club, with memories of narrowly avoiding relegation still fresh in the minds.
A trip to Rayong FC – the club everyone had tipped for the drop – was well-timed and the Swatcats had the perfect pick-me-up thanks to goals from Leandro Assumpcao and Dennis Murillo.
Teerasak Po-on brought Murillo with him from PTT Rayong and, having missed a couple of easy chances last week, the Brazilian began to repay his coach’s faith with stunning free kick from 25 yards out. Alongkorn Chonnathong’s pulled one back in the dying minutes but the Swatcats will be relieved to have their first win on the board.