Buriram United are on the brink of elimination from the AFC Champions League after throwing away a comfortable lead in a 2-2 draw with Cerezo Osaka in Group E.
Entering Wednesday’s clash at the Thunder Castle Stadium having claimed just one point from their opening three games, the Thai Premier League champions were on course for their first victory of the campaign as they claimed a two-goal lead before halftime.
Buriram took the lead after just nine minutes when Thailand international Theerathon Bunmathan lined up a freekick on the edge of the box, before curling a sublime effort into the top corner.
Four minutes before the break, it was 2-0 when Anawin Jujeen raced down the right and crossed for Suchao Nutnum, whose spectacular flying volley was too hot for Kim Jin-hyeon to handle.
But in the 64th minute, the visitors pulled one back when Tatsuya Yamashita climbed highest at the back post and met Noriyuki Sakemoto’s corner with a thumping header into the back of the net.
And a minute from time, Yamashita struck again with another header that clipped the crossbar and crossed the line before bouncing back out, although the referee made the right decision to award the goal – allowing Cerezo to earn a share of the spoils.
With Pohang Steelers beating Shandong Luneng Taishan 4-2 in Wednesday’s other Group E clash, Buriram find themselves rooted to the bottom of the pile and three points away from second-placed Cerezo.
While qualification is still possible, it will take a mighty effort from the Thunder Castle in their remaining games against Shandong and Pohang if they are to repeat last year’s feat of advancing to the knockout round.
Buriram United: Sivaruck Tedsungnoen, Tanasak Srisai, David Rochela, Pratum Chuthong, Surat Sukha (Charyl Chappuis 44’), Jakkraphan Kaewprom, Suchao Nutnum (Jirawat Makarom 88’), Theerathon Bunmathan, Anawin Jujeen (Jay Simpson 63’), Kai Hirano, Carmelo Gonzalez.
Cerezo Osaka: Kim Jin-hyeon, Noriyuki Sakamoto, Takahiro Ogihara (Jumpei Kusukami 88’), Tatsuya Yamashita, Yusuke Maruhashi (Jun Ando 46’), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Mitch Nichols 55’), Aria Jasuru Hasegawa, Kenyu Sugimoto, Gojko Kacar, Takumi Minamino, Yoichiro Kakitani.