Chanathip Songkrasin caps off perfect week for Muang Thong in Thailand
Chanathip Songkrasin helped provide the perfect ending to a memorable week for Muang Thong United as the champions won 3-0 at home to Suphanburi to stay top of the Thai League (T1).
Totchtawan Sripan's side clinched a place in the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League (ACL) for the first time when they defeated Brisbane Roar on Wednesday. And Chanathip's late strike and assist ensured that the Kirins won by the same score on Sunday to stay a point ahead of second-placed Buriram United.
Buriram eased to victory at home to Sisaket and Chiang Rai United got back on track by beating Bangkok Glass.
Here are five things we saw on T1 Matchday 11:
1. Chanathip and Teerasil make the difference
Muang Thong United rested four of the players who started the midweek ACL match against Brisbane Roar. But two of them were on the pitch to combine for the hosts' 70th-minute opener after a stubborn display from Suphanburi had frustrated the Kirins.
Tristan Do played in Teerasil Dangda, who rounded his marker before producing an exquisite chipped finish to put his side in front. With four minutes remaining, Chanathip played a one-two with Teerasil before powering into the box and driving a low shot into the net via a deflection.
Luck was with "Messi J'"again in added time when his attempted cut-back was deflected into goal by Marcelo Xavier to make it a flattering 3-0.
Suphanburi midfielder Charyl Chappuis admitted that Muang Thong's superior quality had made the difference in the end. But, having seen his side win 4-0 over Nakhon Ratchasima last week, he feels the club are on the right track under new head coach Worrawoot Srimaka.
"We didn't play badly in the first half," Chappuis told ESPN FC. "We worked really hard to win the ball and we made a few chances. The coach did a really good job and prepared us well and, of course, after the game against Nakhon Ratchasima, we had a lot of confidence.
"But Muang Thong have a great team with a great coach. We knew they would be a bit tired after the ACL match, but in the end they deserved to win the game."
Chappuis was linked with a move to the Thai champions before the start of the season, and the rumour mill may get to work again when the transfer window re-opens next month.
"I have a contract until end of the season with Suphanburi," Chappuis said. "First of all, I want to have a good season and then we will see what happens.
"At the beginning of this year, I was linked to a lot of teams and that makes me proud, but I'm still a Suphanburi player and want to focus on this year first and then we will see. But in football, you never know what's going to happen next."
2. Diogo back in the spotlight
Buriram United talisman Diogo Luis Santo has been somewhat outshone by his fellow Brazilian Jaja Coelho so far this year. His compatriot had netted twice the number of goals as Diogo going into Saturday's clash at home to struggling Sisaket.
But Diogo reclaimed the limelight in style as his double saw off the challenge of the Koupreys. The striker powered past a weak challenge before netting the first in the 17th minute. An acrobatic volley early in the second half put the Thunder Castle two ahead.
Supachok Sarachat rounded off the scoring with six minutes remaining, stroking into an empty net from Anon Amornlerdsak's unselfish pass. Diogo, whose through ball had started the move, celebrated by lifting both his young teammates up in a show of strength.
Diogo is now on an impressive seven goals for the season, just three behind Jaja.
3. Chiang Rai rediscover home comfort
Chiang Rai United's impressive start to the season went off the rails somewhat as they lost two consecutive home games. First, they were stunned by Port FC before losing a tight tussle with Buriram last week.
But the Beetles stayed in touch with the top two as they earned to a 3-0 victory at home to fourth-placed Bangkok Glass on Sunday. Three excellent goals from Rafael Coelho, Felipe Azevedo and Sivakorn Tiatrikul put them five points ahead of the Glass Rabbits and just three points behind Muang Thong.
Like the Kirins' victory over Suphanburi, 3-0 doesn't really tell the story of the game and Chiang Rai's goalkeeper Pattara Piyapatrakitti had to make several excellent saves for the home side. But it was the Beetles' superb finishing that won the day.
4. Port FC keep moving on up
Port FC continued their excellent run of form with a hard fought 2-1 win at home to BEC Tero Sasana. Josimar Rodrigues' fifth goal of the season gave the hosts the lead before Tero equalised with a sensational strike from Wichan Nantasri
But Port Lions midfielder Siwakorn Jakkuprasat struck the winning goal to move the home side above their opponents and into a heady fifth place in T1. Port had modest expectations at the start of the year, and inconsistent form in the early games hinted at a battle to stay in mid-table security.
However, four wins in five now has the Bangkok club's fans dreaming of much better things.
5. Thai Honda losing their way
Last year's League 2 champions Thai Honda have had a patchy start to life in T1, with some excellent performances but also some less than impressive displays. The standout victories over Bangkok United, Port FC and Bangkok Glass counted for nothing on Saturday as a third defeat on the trot spelled the end for head coach Sirisak Yodyardthai.
Sirisak left Brazilians Diego Assis and Rafinha on the bench on Saturday. He then watched visitors Chonburi race into a two-goal lead with a double from Renan Marques. Sittichok Kannoo pulled one back before half-time, but Fode Diakite added a third for Chonburi to seal Sirisak's fate.
Just 11 games into the season, five T1 clubs have now fired their head coaches. Sirisak's successor has been warned.
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