Buriram stay top in ACL despite home loss to Gamba

Buriram United remain top of Group F in the AFC Champions League despite falling to a 2-1 loss to Gamba Osaka at the New I-Mobile Stadium on Wednesday evening.

The Thai Premier League outfit had initially taken the lead through a Theerathon Bunmathan strike after eight minutes but Lins equalised for Gamba five minutes before halftime, before substitute Kotaro Omori struck to win it for the Japanese side in the 87th minute.

Buriram have every reason to feel hard done by given they dominated proceedings for large parts of the contest, and also had a goal controversially ruled out just before the visitors netted the winner.

Still, they remain top of Group F, tied with Seongnam on seven points, and could potentially secure their place in the knockout round with a win over the South Koreans in their next match on April 22.

But the scenario could have been so much better for the Thunder Castle had they been able to claim maximum points on Wednesday, and it certainly looked that way after they broke the deadlock in the eighth minute.

With their opponents reeling from an early injury to centre-back Takaharu Nishino, who had to be replaced by Kim Jung-ya, the hosts capitalised as Theerathon lined up a corner and sent a sublime curling effort over Masaaki Higashiguchi and straight into the back of the net.

It could have been 2-0 five minutes later when Diogo broke free inside the area and a lovely one-two with Jakkraphan Kaewprom, only for him to send a tame shot straight at the opposition keeper.

However, after their slow start, Gamba eventually got into the game and – after issuing a couple of warning shots with long-range attempts – eventually found the equaliser in the 40th minute.

An incisive passing move that began near the halfway line eventually saw Shu Kurata feed a neat pass into the path of Lins, who made no mistake in stabbing his shot past Sivaruck Tedsungnoen.

Just before halftime, it looked as though the J.League Division 1 champions have overturned the deficit when Takashi Usami’s low cross into the box was converted at the far post by Hiroyuki Abe, only for the strike to be correctly ruled out for offside.

Straight up the other end, Diogo had another golden opportunity after receiving the final ball from Go Seul-ki following a lovely one-touch passing move, but the Brazilian once again shot straight at Higashiguchi with the entire goal to aim at.

Buriram continued to be in control of proceedings in the second half but were just unable to reclaim the lead; Go slipping at the crucial moment as he was about to pull the trigger and firing wide in the 54th minute, before Jakkraphan curled a shot wide of the near post after finding space inside the box on the hour mark.

Suchao Nutnum was next to threaten for the hosts when he latched onto a loose ball and lashed a left-footed shot off target in the 70th minute, but the best opportunity was spurned with nine minutes remaining.

Reacting quickest after Gilberto Macena’s cross had been cleared into his path, Diogo forced Higashiguchi into a splendid save but the ball fell to substitute Prakit Deeprom, only for the substitute to somehow blaze over from two yards out.

Then, controversy struck in the 85th minute when Diogo appeared to have been brought down inside the area by Koki Yonekura as he attempted to latch onto Macena’s through-ball, which made its way to Theerathon, who slotted past Higashiguchi.

However, referee Ahmed Al Kaf ruled out the goal as his linesman penalised Diogo for offside, even though replays showed that the last touch came off Yonekura before the ball reached Theerathon.

And to add insult to injury, Yonekura went up the other end two minutes later and played a crucial part in Gamba claiming the three points, deftly playing a cross from the right into the path of Omori, who blasted a ferocious first-time effort into the bottom corner to win it for his side.

Buriram United: Sivaruck Tedsungnoen, Chitipat Tanklang, Andres Tunez, Korawit Namwiset, Narubodin Weerawatnodom (Suree Sukha 46’), Go Seul-ki, Jakkraphan Kaewprom (Prakit Deeprom 71’), Suchao Nutnum, Theerathon Bunmathan, Diogo, Gilberto Macena.

Gamba Osaka: Masaaki Higashiguchi, Koki Yonekura, Daiki Niwa, Takaharu Nishino (Kim Jung-ya 8’), Hiroki Fujiharu, Hiroyuki Abe (Shingo Akamine 61′), Yasuyuki Konno, Yasuhito Endo, Shu Kurata (Kotaro Omori 78’), Lins, Takashi Usami.


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