Muangthong see off Chiangrai to win Thai League Cup

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Muangthong United were crowned 2017 Thai League Cup champions on Wednesday after claiming a 2-0 final win over Chiangrai United.

Peerapat Notchaiya got the Twin Qilins on their way with a well-taken strike in the 35th minute, before Teerasil Dangda added a second on the hour mark to seal the victory.

The result meant that Muangthong avoided the ignominy – for a club of their stature – of finishing the season without silverware, after they had to settle for second place in the Thai League 1 behind Buriram United.

Meanwhile, for Chiangrai, the defeat was a slight disappointment in what has overall been a positive 2017, although they could still finish on a high in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Bangkok United.

It could have been a different story, however, especially following the promising start they made on Wednesday.

Muangthong may have enjoyed more possession from the opening whistle, but it was the Beetles who looked the more dangerous of the two teams.

With the opposition looking uncertain playing a three-man defence, Chiangrai strikers Rafael Coelho and Akarawin Sawasdee immediately looked to put them under constant pressure and the inventive Thitipan Puangchan kept threatening to find an opening.

However, a mistake by Chiangrai keeper Chatchai Budprom nearly handed their opponents the opener in the 25th minute, as he raced out of his box but lost possession to Adisak Kraisorn.

Adisak proceeded to lay the ball off to Teerasil but, from a difficult angle, the striker could only fire into the side-netting.

In what proved to be the story of the opening 45, clear-cut chances were few and far between although, when they were presented with a decent opening, Muangthong made the most of it.

Again, Chatchai might feel he could have done better as he parried a fairly central freekick by Heberty back into the danger area, allowing Peerapat to blast the rebound into the roof of the net from a tight angle to open the scoring.

Despite falling behind, Chiangrai came out for the second half looking determined to get back into the contest.

Four minutes after the break, a good opportunity went begging when Akarawin got in behind the opposition defence but overhit his cross with an unmarked Rafael waiting to be found.

Then, in the 52nd minute, Muangthong’s defenders were caught napping as a hopeful high ball forward sent Rafael racing through, although Nukoolkit Krutyai recovered well to make a last-ditch block.

Just when it looked as though the Beetles were gaining momentum, a moment of brilliance changed the complexion of the tie.

Moments earlier, Muangthong had already delivered a warning shot when Heberty played a lovely one-two with Teerasil before screwing his shot inches wide of the bottom corner.

And, in the 60th minute, there appeared to be little danger when Theerathon Bunmathan received possession just inside the Chiangrai half.

With the vision to spot his teammate’s run and the sublime left foot to produce the delivery, Theerathon played a superb through-ball to release Teerasil, who effortlessly took the pass into his stride before finishing past Chatchai.

If they had earlier shown resolve despite trailing by a goal, conceding a second now had Chiangrai completely deflated.

To their credit, they still did show intent going forward and Piyaphon Phanichakul had Kawin Thamsatchanan scampering to his far post with a glancing header, while Rafael also called the Muangthong custodian into action when he firmly nodded a Chaiyawat Buran cross towards goal.

But, by and large, the Twin Qilins never really looked troubled from that point on as they marched on towards the trophy.

And, a minute from time, Chiangrai’s disappointing evening was rounded off as they finished the game with ten men, after Brazilian defender Everton was sent off for a second bookable offence.

MUANGTHONG UNITED: Kawin Thamsatchanan, Naoaki Aoyama, Wattana Playnum, Nukoolkit Krutyai, Theerathon Bunmathan, Sarach Yooyen (Ratchapol Nawanno 80’), Lee Ho, Peerapat Notchaiya, Teerasil Dangda, Heberty (Leandro Assumpcao 90’), Adisak Kraisorn (Charyl Chappuis 72’).

CHIANGRAI UNITED: Chatchai Budprom, Pratum Chuthong, Artit Daosawang, Everton, Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul, Piyaphon Phanichakul, Thitipan Puangchan (Shinniphat Lee-Oh 75’), Sivakorn Tiatrakul (Chaiyawat Buran 70’), Suriya Singmui, Akarawin Sawasdee, Rafael Coelho.

Photo credit: SCG Muangthong United FC