Buriram United humble Muang Thong to see Chiang Rai go top of T1
Former champions Buriram United made it clear that they will fight for this year's Thai League (T1) title after beating bitter rivals Muang Thong United 2-0 on Monday evening.
Buriram striker Jaja Coelho finally found a way past Kawin Thamsatchanan in the Muang Thong goal and Suchao Nutnum followed up to make sure that the reigning champions lost a game and conceded a goal for the first time this season in T1.
Kawin had kept six consecutive clean sheets in domestic action this year, and his goal had been breached just once in three AFC Champions League (ACL) games. However, the Muang Thong United keeper had to pick the ball out of the net seven times on recent international duty as Thailand lost 3-0 and 4-0 to Saudi Arabia and Japan respectively.
The defeat saw Muang Thong lose top spot as Alexandre Gama's Chiang Rai United continued their impressive start to the season with a 3-0 victory at Thai Honda. This put the Beetles one point ahead at the top of the league, while Buriram edged to within a point of the Kirins.
Muang Thong's loss was their first since a 3-2 reverse to Ratchaburi in July 2016 and the end to an incredible 15-match winning run and 17-match unbeaten run in T1.
For Buriram, this was the perfect time to face an opponent who had been busy with ACL and international duties, and they duly took their chance.
The Thunder Castle had held a psychological edge over the Kirins, having never been defeated by their rivals until last year. A first defeat was quickly followed by a second, suggesting that Muang Thong were now in the ascendancy and the balance of power had shifted.
On Monday evening, however, the side from the Northeast proved that they were ready to challenge again as they saw off the league leaders with a goal in each half.
There were just six minutes on the clock when Jaja headed in the opener from a Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri free kick to lift the confidence of the former champions.
With four minutes remaining, the hosts wrapped up the points when Diogo Luis Santo's low cross from the left was side-footed home by Buriram skipper Suchao. The home fans were in jubilant mood after seeing their side prove that this season would not simply be a procession for Totchtawan Sripan's Muang Thong.
It was a Brazilian blitz that saw off Thai Honda, enabling Chiang Rai United to hit the top of the league. Rafael Coelho, Felipe Azevedo and Vander Luiz were on target as the ambitious side from the north reinforced their status as title challengers.
Bangkok Glass moved into fourth spot after a hard-fought 3-2 victory at Navy FC. Nattachai Srisuwan gave the visitors the lead before Suttipong Laoporn levelled for the home side.
Bang Seung-Hwan's red card put the game back in the away side's favour and strikes from Daniel 'Toti' Rodriguez and Ariel Rodriguez put them in control. But Bangkok Glass' Mongkol Namnuad was then sent off and Adefolarin Durosinmi's late strike made it a nervous ending for the Glass Rabbits.
Josimar Rodrigues netted his first goal for Port FC and it was enough to defeat Ubon UMT United in Bangkok. It continues the Port Lions' incredible home form. Newly promoted back to the top tier, they have won three and drawn two of five home games, conceding just three goals.
Bangkok United got back to winning ways with a 4-2 victory at home to Sukhothai. But the win was not an easy one as the visitors gave the Bangkok Angels a real scare.
Jaycee John put the host 2-0 up after 25 minutes and Dragan Boskovic's penalty in added time in the first half made it look like a comfortable evening for Mano Polking's side. But the team's fragile confidence was rocked by Bireme Diouf's quickfire double before Gilberto Macena settled the game with a blistering strike to make it 4-2 with 20 minutes remaining. Last year's runners-up are still down in 10th spot despite the victory.
Chonburi edged into seventh place with a controversial 2-0 victory at home to Ratchaburi. Two late Renan Marques penalties sealed the points for the Sharks as they earned their third win in a row.
Pattaya United beat struggling Sisaket 2-1 at home, while Jason Withe endured a miserable start to his time as head coach of Super Power Samut Prakan as they suffered a 4-0 defeat at Nakhon Ratchasima.
BEC Tero Sasana saw Suporn Peenagatapho sent off when 2-1 up against Suphanburi in the first half, but still held on to take a point after Anawin Jujeen equalised for the visitors in the second half.
Just three points now separate the top three T1 teams going into Matchday Eight in an increasingly intriguing T1 season.
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