Buriram United fell to their second defeat in the AFC Champions League group stage, going down three-one to Beijing Guoan. The Thunder Castles are now fourth in the group with three matches to play. Here are the five talking points from this one.
#1 Fast start for Beijing
AFC Champions League 2019: Buriram United 0-1 Beijing Guoan – Cedric Bakambu (2′)
Buriram United led Beijing Guoan in the group standings, going into matchday three of the AFC Champions League. The Thai side were coming on the back of a win against Jeonbuk, while their opponents were yet to win a game in this year’s competition.
However, the Thunder Castles lost their position of advantage just two minutes into the game, when former Villareal striker Cedric Bakambu ghosted in at the near post to flick the ball past the goalkeeper.
That goal set up the Chinese side well for the game to come while putting Buriram United in pressure early on.
#2 Foreign connection
AFC Champions League 2019: Buriram United 0-2 Beijing Guoan – Cedric Bakambu (29′)
Some years ago, the Chinese Super League started heavily investing in foreign talent, bringing in the likes of several renowned stars such as Hulk, Oscar, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Paulinho, and others.
Beijing Guoan themselves had a special trifecta of foreign talent among their ranks for their clash against Buriram, with Cedric Bakambu, Jonathan Viera, and Renato Augusto all included in the lineup. And it was those three who combined magnificently for the Imperial Guards to score their second of the night.
Viera played Renato Augusto in behind the defence with a brilliant through ball, before the latter put it across the six-yard box for Bakambu, who scored his second of the night.
#3 Hattrick hero Bakambu seals win for Beijing
AFC Champions League 2019: Buriram United 0-3 Beijing Guoan – Cedric Bakambu (54′)
Buriram United were on the backfoot for almost the entirety of the first half. However, the Thunder Castles did regain some of their composure and started playing with a purpose after the half-time break.
However, all their hard work was undone when Cedric Bakambu scored his third of the night to complete the easiest of hattricks. The Congolese tapped the ball in from a yard out for the third goal after goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen had spilt a shot from Wang Gang.
Courtesy of his goal-scoring heroics against Buriram United, Bakambu also became the first player to score a hattrick in the AFC Champions League 2019 group stage. He now occupies the second spot in the top scorer table, behind former Southampton striker Graziano Pelle.
#4 Suphanat continues stellar rise
AFC Champions League 2019: Buriram United 1-3 Beijing Guoan – Suphanat Muenta (80′)
With the match seemingly out of their hands, Buriram United coach Bozidar Bandovic sent on rising star Suphanat Mueanta on to the pitch. The 16-year-old came on to replace Supachai Jaided, another one of Thailand’s younger stars, after a disappointing outing for him in front of the goal.
And the youngster made an immediate impact, as he raced on to a brilliant through ball by fellow substitute Luong Xuan Truong, before knocking it past the goalkeeper.
While the goal ended up being nothing more than a consolation for the Thai-outfit, Suphanat did achieve a personal milestone. The teenager became the youngest player ever to score a goal in the AFC Champions League at just sixteen years of age – beating the previous record set by Takashi Usami, who was seventeen when he achieved the feat.
#5 Buriram live to fight another day
Despite their second loss in three AFC Champions League group stage matches, Buriram United remain within touching distance of the qualifying spots. The Thunder Castles were second best in their match against Beijing but a matchday two win combined with other favourable results ensured that they live to fight another day.
Buriram registered an impressive win against group leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai on matchday two of the competition, thereby improving their position. They were then helped even further by Jeonbuk and Urawa Reds who played out a draw in round three to lessen the impact of their loss.
However, the road ahead is as tricky as it gets for the Thai outfit. In fifteen days time, they visit Beijing for the return fixture before playing Urawa Reds at home. They then play Jeonbuk on March 21 to close their AFC Champions League group stage campaign.