Buriram United’s hopes of qualifying for the AFC Champions League Round of 16 were dealt a real blow on Wednesday as they were beaten 2-1 by Seongnam FC in Group F.
The Thai giants found themselves behind at the Tancheon Sports Complex when Kim Do-heon converted from the penalty spot, after his initial shot from inside the area was adjudged to have been blocked by Narubadin Weerawatnodom with his hand.
Seven minutes before the break, Seongnam extended their lead when Nam Joon-jae was left completely unmarked inside the six-yard box to meet Kim Do-heon’s dangerous freekick with a thumping header into the back of the net.
The visitors did reduce the deficit with 13 minutes remaining when Diogo reacted quickest to Korawit Narmwiset’s flick-on header and nodded the ball home from close range.
However, they were just unable to find an equaliser in the remainder of the contest and fell to their second straight defeat, following another 2-1 loss to Gamba Osaka at the start of the month.
The result, coupled with Gamba’s 5-0 thrashing of Guangzhou R&F, means that for the first time in the campaign, Buriram are out of the top two in Group F and face the realistic prospect of missing out on a place in the Round of 16.
Given Gamba’s better head-to-head record, the only way the Thunder Castle can now qualify is if they can better the J.League 1 champions’ result against already-qualified Seongnam on May 6 in their clash with Guangzhou R&F.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese side Becamex Binh Duong’s hopes of advancing from Group E were officially ended after they lost to Shandong Luneng Taishan 3-1 at the Jinan Olympic Sports Center Stadium.
Binh Duong actually got off to a fine start as they edged ahead in the 19th minute when Nguyen Tang Tuan won possession off Dai Lin just outside the box and the ball eventually broke to Nguyen Trong Hoang, who coolly slotted through the legs of Wang Dalei.
But eight minutes later, the hosts drew level after Yang Xu out-jumped David Vrankovic inside the area to meet Diego Tardelli’s right-wing cross and send a header into the top corner.
Tardelli was the provider again as the Chinese Super League side took the lead a minute after the hour mark; Junior Urso making a late run into the box to meet his compatriot’s low pass and got enough on his shot to put the ball over the line before Au Van Hoan cleared it away.
And in the 70th minute, Shandong went on to seal the victory as Yang again got the better of Vrankovic to break free inside the box, before somehow managing to force the ball past the onrushing Nguyen Quoc Thien Esele for his side’s third goal.
There is now mathematically no way Binh Duong can progress to the knockout stage and they are already consigned to finishing bottom of the group, while Kashiwa Reysol and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors currently occupy the top two.
Wednesday’s AFC Champions League Results (East Zone)
Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
Shandong Luneng Taishan 3-1 Becamex Binh Duong
Seongnam FC 2-1 Buriram United
Guangzhou R&F 0-5 Gamba Osaka