Thai champions Buriram United have won their first game of the 2019 AFC Champions League with a 1-0 home win over South Korean champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC.
Buriram United who are the last Thai club still left in the AFC Champions League come into the game after being heavily defeated away to J-League side Urawa Red Diamonds in the previous week. While Jeonbuk earned a decisive 3-0 victory over Chinese club Beijing Sinobo Guoan FC.
The game at the Chang Arena started very tentatively with both clubs limiting each other to long range pot shots. The most notable of these came in the 15th minute when Jeonbuk’s Brazilian striker Ricardo Lopes Pereira received the ball on the edge of the box. He shot low to the keeper’s left hand side, however Thai keeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen was well positioned to save comfortably.
Buriram United’s best chance of the game came in the last kick of the first half. They had received a free-kick 25 yards out from goal. Captain Suchao Nuchnum stepped up and delivered a curling free kick that just went wide of the goal. However Jeonbuk’s goalkeeper Song Bum-keun was confident enough to watch the ball fly wide without making an effort to dive for the ball.
After a first half of very limited chances, Buriram stepped up a gear in the second. Right from kickoff they showed their attacking intent. Brazilian striker Pedro Júnior received the ball on the edge of the box. The Brazilian striker managed to turn and shoot a left footed half volley just over the bar.
Moments later in the 49th minute, Buriram United attacked once again on the counter attack. Midfielder Ratthanakorn Maikami received the ball deep in his own box after possession was overturned. The youngster calmly played the ball to Pedro Júnior on the halfway line who then proceeded to drive at the Jeonbuk defence. The Brazilian only had Supachok Sarachat running to his left in support and managed to play him in. The Jeonbuk defenders tried to cliam offside but were unable to get close enough to the speedy winger. With only the keeper to beat Supachok fired the ball past the keeper to put Buriram United in front. Questions could potenitally be asked of the Korean goalkeeper as he appeared to leave a large gap to his right which Supachok took advantage of in scoring the goal.
Image from Oxii
Pedro Júnior almost helped himself to a goal in the 58th minute from a corner. The striker was able to meet the ball at the near post to get a good flick on the ball. However the keeper’s reflex was good enough for him to have the save.
Jeonbuk Hyundai FC however refused to be beaten without a fight. In the 68th minute the Korean side carved out a great opportunity.Ricardo Lopes Pereira weaved his way around the edge of the box before unleashing a powerful shot which fired off the underside of the bar. Keeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen was truly beaten as Jeonbuk came millimetres from levelling the game.
Buriram United would hold out for the win and earn their first points in the AFC Champions League group stages. Supachok Sarachat is quickly becoming Buriram United’s most important player forming an effective partnership with Pedro Júnior. The success of this partnership has meant that big name signing Modibo Maïga has found himself on the bench in recent games. Defensively Buriram were a lot more disciplined that the last game. They kept their concentration for the full 90 minutes ensuring no silly mistakes were made like the previous game in the competition.
Buriram United are starting to hit form at the right time as they have a mouth watering game against fellow Thai League favourites Bangkok United this weekend. While they will face Beijing Sinobo Guoan Fc in their next AFC Champions League game.
Cover image from Fox Sports Asia