Vander Luiz inspires Chiang Rai United to Thai FA Cup vs. Bangkok United
Vander Luiz was the hero as Chiang Rai United lifted the Thailand FA Cup with a thrilling 4-2 victory over eight-man Bangkok United on Saturday night.
The win also sealed a place in the 2018 AFC Champions League qualifiers on a bad-tempered night in Bangkok.
Vander struck twice, while fellow Brazilians Rafael Coelho and Everton Goncalves were Chiang Rai's other scorers. The Bangkok Angels had taken an early lead through Pokklaw Anan and pulled the score back to 2-2 through Jaycee John.
But the later stages of the game were marred by four red cards, including three for the losing team.
In the sixth minute, Bangkok United made the breakthrough on the counter attack. Ekkachai Samrei switched the ball to Mario Gjurovski on the left and the Macedonian took the ball in his stride and drove into the penalty area.
Gjurovski looked up and found Pokklaw in the centre of the box, and he calmly picked his spot to put the Bangkok Angels one up.
But just after Jaycee had missed a great chance to add to Bangkok United's lead, Chiang Rai levelled in the 25th minute. After a Chiang Rai corner was cleared, the ball found its way to Vander on the left. The Brazilian's cross was met with a perfect downward header from Everton for the equaliser.
Chiang Rai had the first clear opening of the second half in the 56th minute, but Sivakorn Tiatrakul drove a powerful shot just wide.
Two minutes later, they took the lead through Coelho. Vander cut in from the left and his effort on goal was spilled by Kittipong Phuthawchueak. Coelho picked up the rebound and tapped into the open goal.
Bangkok United hit back and Sumanya Purisai forced Chatchai Budprom into a fine save from long range.
But the comeback attempt was dealt a huge blow when Sathaporn Daengsee was given his second yellow card with 20 minutes left.
The 10 men responded by levelling matters in the 73rd minute. Ekkachai's cross from the left was headed onto the post by Gjurovski and Jaycee prodded home the rebound from close range.
But Chiang Rai exposed their opponents at the back again when a long ball found Vander racing through to round Kittipong and slot home with 10 minutes remaining.
It was back to 10 against 10 with four minutes remaining when Thithiphan Puangchan was ordered off for his second yellow as things boiled over.
But Sanrawat Dechmitr was next to lose his head and got his second yellow for an off-the-ball incident with two minutes remaining.
And Bangkok United's misery was complete in added time when Vander was chopped down by Ekkachai, who was red-carded before Vander slotted home the spot-kick.
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