Muang Thong continue Thai league dominance with fifth consecutive win
Thai champions Muang Thong United are sweating on the fitness of midfielder Lee Ho ahead of next week's AFC Champions League (ACL) clash with his former club Ulsan Hyundai.
Lee limped off in the second half of Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Pattaya United in the Thai League (T1) as the Kirins stayed ahead of the chasing pack with their fifth win on the trot.
The former South Korean international was brought to the Kirins for his ACL winning experience with Ulsan in 2012. Following last week's historic ACL victory over Kashima Antlers in Bangkok, the Thai side will now be desperately hoping that the injury will not rule him out of next Tuesday's clash..
The scoreline flattered the league leaders in Pattaya as the hosts threatened on several occasions, only to be denied by goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan's brilliance in goal.
It was a fifth consecutive clean sheet in the league for Kawin, but the Thai national keeper had to be at his best on several occasions to deny Pattaya's Chaiyawat Buran in particular.
Head coach Totchtawan Sripan shuffled his pack in order to maintain freshness in a hectic period. Right-back Tristan Do was rested, Xisco Jimenez was left on the bench and centre-back Celio Santos was again given the chance to build up match fitness, with Naoaki Aoyama making way.
The league leaders went ahead after just 11 minutes when Adisak Kraison was naively brought down by Kim Taeyon as he cut across the edge of the box. The Thai international striker stroked home the spot-kick for his third goal in three T1 games.
The Kirins were then forced into a change before the hour mark as Lee limped off to be replaced by Wattana Playnum.
But the visitors went 2-0 up in the 59th minute when Teerasil Dangda added the second with his 99th league goal for the club. Chanathip Songkrasin played a beautiful through ball to split the defence and Teerasil instinctively lobbed over Somporn Yos from the edge of the box.
Mongol Tossakrai put a very flattering look on the scoreline when he tapped in to make it 3-0 in the 88th minute.
Muang Thong's winning run continues and their goal remains intact, but the contenders kept up the pressure with impressive wins.
รอวันเธอกลับมา ........ ชัยชนะวันนี้ มอบให้กับแฟนๆ ทุกคน ที่ยืนเคียงข้างกัน ขอขอบคุณแฟนๆ ทุกคนที่เข้ามาให้กำลังใจในสนาม ยังมีที่นั่งอีกมากที่รอแฟนๆ กลับเข้าสู่สนามอีกครั้ง นักเตะทุกคนยังรอแฟนๆ เข้ามาเต็มสนาม เข้ามารวมพลังกัน เพื่อการต่อสู้ที่ยิ่งใหญ่ของบุรีรัมย์ ยูไนเต็ด การต่อสู้ที่ต้องการกำลังใจและเสียงเชียร์ ของแฟนๆ ขอเพียงเรามีเรา วันพรุ่งนี้ต้องดีกว่าวันนี้ ขอบคุณค่ะ
Buriram United made it nine goals in two games as they dismissed Nakhon Ratchasima's challenge with a 4-0 victory in the "Isaan" derby to stay just two points off the pace. The three players who scored five between them at Thai Honda on Saturday were on target again, as Jaja Coelho hit a brace and Supachok Sarachat and Diogo Luis Santo added the others.
Chiang Rai United also remain two points off Muang Thong after an impressive 3-0 win at Bangkok United, spoiling Mano Polking's 100th game as head coach of the Bangkok Angels. Alexandre Gama's side scored three second-half goals through Thossawat Limwannasathian, Tanaboon Kesarat and a Rafael Coelho penalty.
Early pace-setters Ubon UMT United dropped more points at Navy FC. It looked good for Ubon when two goals from Victor Cardozo had them leading 2-1 at half-time. But an inspired second-half performance from the hosts turned it around and goals from Adefolarin Durosinmi and Chusana Numkanitsorn gave Navy a 3-2 win.
Ratchaburi relieved the pressure on head coach Pacheta as they earned their first win of the season, thrashing Sukhothai 3-0 away from home, with goals from Takafumi Akahoshi, Sompong Soleb and Alharbi El Jadeyaoui.
Chonburi were also relieved to take all three points in a 3-1 home win over bottom side Super Power Samut Prakan. Suphanburi -- another struggling side -- will be happy to have stopped the rot after three straight defeats, earning a point in a 1-1 home draw with Bangkok Glass.
Thai Honda bounced back from Saturday's 5-1 thumping at home to Buriram by beating visiting Port FC by the same scoreline. And BEC Tero Sasana kept up their impressive form by beating Sisaket 1-0 at home.
All eyes will now turn to Muang Thong's game at home to Nakhon Ratchasima this Saturday as Teerasil goes for a century of Thai League goals for the Kirins.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK