New signings Bernardo Cuesta and Ricardo Bueno were on target for Buriram United as they defeated Ho Chi Minh City FC 2-1 in Preliminary Round 2 of AFC Champions League 2020 at the Chang Arena in Buriram, Thailand on Tuesday.
2019 Thai League 1 runners-up will now face Chinese Super League giants Shanghai SIPG FC for a place in the group stages of ACL 2020 while V.League 2019 runners-up Ho Chi Minh City will drop down to the AFC Cup 2020.
Despite playing with home advantage, the Buriram attack failed to click in the first 45 minutes while V.League 2019 runners-up Ho Chi Minh City threatened to inflict damage on the Thunder Castles from the word go.
The Thai League giants were lucky to avoid conceding in the 21st minute when some horrendous defending from Sasalak Haiprakhon handed possession to Tran Phi Son inside the box. The visiting captain did round goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen, but his effort was blocked by the recovering Buriram defence.
Eight minutes later, it was the crossbar that came to the Thais’ rescue as Ngo Hoang Thinh’s free kick was pushed onto the crossbar by Thailand international Siwarak as Buriram hung on to parity.
However, Bozidar Bandovic’s men were fired up on their return to the pitch for the second period and it only needed the former Thai League champions eight minutes to break the deadlock against the run of play.
25-year-old full-back Narubadin Weerawatnodom did all the hard work on the right wing for Buriram and crossed in for their new Argentine forward Cuesta to net his first goal for the club stunning the visiting Vietnamese.
Buriram went on to double their advantage in the 74th minute and it was once again a new signing who netted as Brazilian striker Bueno scored off a corner kick to give them the safety of a two-goal lead.
That advantage, however, did not last long as Ho Chi Minh City star Pape Diakite headed in a cross from Phi Son three minutes later to reduce the deficit back to a single goal.
But, Buriram defence held on for the win and the Thai outfit will now travel to Shanghai to take on the Chinese Super League giants at the Yuanshen Sports Centre Stadium on January 28.