Jaja Coelho takes Buriram United to brink of Thai glory above Muang Thong
Striker Jaja Coelho netted his fourth hat trick of the season as a 5-2 victory over Sukhothai put Buriram United within touching distance of the Thai League (T1) title.
Jaja and fellow Brazilian Diogo Luis Santo made the difference for the Thunder Castle, while second-placed Muang Thong United slipped nine points behind as their match at home to Thai Honda was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Due to their superior head-to-head record over the Kirins, Buriram now need just six points from their remaining four games to regain the title that Muang Thong won in 2016.
Here are five things we saw on T1 Matchday 30:
1. Brazilian brilliance edges Buriram closer
Buriram are within sight of their fourth title in five years after another master class from their prolific strike duo. Jaja's hat trick was supplemented by a brace from Diogo as Bozidar Bandovic's side pulled nine points clear of Muang Thong.
Buriram didn't have everything their own way as Sukhothai stunned the home crowd when Kongnateechai Boonma's shot was helped into his own net by Pansa Hemviboon in the eighth minute.
It took until three minutes before half-time for the hosts to equalise through Diogo's header, and then three goals from Jaja between the 48th and 57th minutes put Buriram in control. The first came from neat back heel, the second was a thunderous finish from a narrow angle, and the hat-trick was completed with a poacher's finish.
Rodrigo Maranhao pulled one back before Diogo added his second with excellent curling shot from the edge of the box.
If they win in Suphanburi next Sunday, Buriram can clinch the title when they meet BEC Tero Sasana at home on Nov. 8. It could also be as soon as next week as a Muang Thong defeat at Port FC combined with a Buriram victory in Suphanburi would seal the championship.
2. Rochela welcomes change of fortune
Port FC won just one of 10 T1 games during former Thailand head coach Kiatisuk "Zico" Senamuang's brief spell in charge. The return of Jadet Meelarp has seen the Port Lions win two in a row, following up a 5-2 victory at Pattaya United with a 3-1 win over Nakhon Ratchasima.
David Rochela opened the scoring with a penalty before the visitors went down to 10 men before half-time. Josimar Rodrigues added a second before Paulo Rangel pulled one back, but Sergio Suarez killed off the Swatcats with Port's third.
Rochela was reluctant to suggest that the coaching change was the reason for the upturn in results, suggesting that luck was not on Zico's side.
"With Zico in some games, we didn't have any luck," Rochela told ESPN FC. "We tried to play as he wanted and I remember playing Chiang Rai United here when we had many chances and lost 2-1.
"And this is part of football. We went to Pattaya [following Zico's departure] after working hard that week and in the first 30 minutes we scored three goals.
"Now, we are in a good place. We know now that we will stay in T1 next season and we have four more games to finish as high as we can."
Rochela relished the intense physical battle presented by former Selangor striker Rangel.
"I was ready for it," said Rochela. "In Spain, I played with tall guys, strong guys and small guys and, to be honest, I prefer marking big guys to small ones who are fast and have a lot of movement. It's part of my job and I think I did it well today."
3. Dragan's record haul
There are still four games remaining, but Bangkok United's Dragan Boskovic has already broken the record for the most goals scored in a season.
His hat trick in Saturday's 7-2 victory at Sisaket put him on the 34-goal mark, lifting him above the 33 netted by Buriram's Diogo in 2015.
For the Bangkok Angels, it was a welcome return for the free scoring form of earlier in the year before various breaks interrupted their momentum.
Things look increasingly grim for Sisaket as they remain seven points from safety with just four games to rescue the situation.
4. Chiang Rai pull clear of Sharks
Before kickoff, fourth-placed Chiang Rai United sat just three points ahead of sixth-placed Chonburi, not a position they would have expected to be facing earlier in the season.
Things looked bleak for the home side when Prince Amponsah gave the visitors the lead in the 40th minute.
While Buriram's Brazilians were lifting them closer to the title, Chiang Rai also turned to their own boys from Brazil. Felipe Azevedo levelled almost immediately before second-half strikes from Everton Goncalves and Vander Luiz turned the game in the hosts' favour.
Chiang Rai still have an outside chance of third place and an AFC Champions League qualification spot. It would be a small consolation for a club who had hoped to challenge for the title.
5. Victory at last for Super Power
In a season that had seen them take just one point from the previous 29 games, it didn't seem likely that Super Power Samut Prakan could earn their first victory at home to stubborn Navy FC.
The visitors had tasted defeat in only two of their last 10 matches -- both to top five teams. Super Power, meanwhile, had lost an incredible 27 T1 games in succession, including several humiliating defeats by scorelines like 7-0, 8-0, 9-2 and 9-1.
Osotspa/Super Power record its first win in the league since 24 September 2016 (vs Army United 3-2)— thai-fussball.com (@thaifussballde) October 14, 2017
When Suradet Thongchai opened the scoring with a diving header, Super Power and their small band of loyal fans were daring to dream. But it looked like the same old story when goals from Chusana Numkanitsorn and Adefolarin put Navy 2-1 up.
But the dream wouldn't die and Kitipop Uapachakam equalised before Tanapol Udomlap's back-heel flick gave Super Power an unlikely victory.
It may have been a dismal year, but at least Super Power have been spared the indignity of a winless season.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK