Christian shows us his goalscoring technique
Give me live football over footie on the box any day. Why the crowds for every game at the Legoland Thunderdome have dropped during the World Cup is a mystery to me but today's game also saw a lower than usual attendance. Perhaps it's a preview of how crowds would look if Muangthong ceased to win trophies. It's not too bad though - the Ultras stand is 70-80% full, the side stands about 60% and the same for the North Stand. Still a big crowd.
To the lineup - Kawin (GK), Piyachart (LB) , Jetsada (Cpt, CB) , Nattaporn (CB), Kone (RB) , Datsakorn (MD) , Zaizen (MD) , Yaya (LW) , Siaka (DM) , Christian (FW) , Teerasil (ST). Did you spot the interesting bit? A rare start for Zaizen, whose class is undeniable but whose health seems highly fragile. I was glad to see him.
Samut Songkhram were never really in this game. The first goal came when, ironically, I was lost in thought worrying that this side would continue their now notorious tactics. After all, this is the team that walked off in this fixture last time as their coach threw bottles at the home fans. All those flashbacks stopped me from seeing the first goal properly. I just remember the head of Dagno (or his twin, Kone) going up and netting the first goal.
From then on, the risk of a cheat-fest from the visitors was moot, as they were chasing a game they could not catch. Zaizen worked his magic well, playing in a far more offensive position than the man he replaced in the starting line up. There was nothing highly technical about his game, he simply spotted the runs and sideways movement of his teammates very well. Combining with the increasingly dangerous Christian and the trickery of Yaya, his neat one-two passes created frequent chances from very short range. This was possible because the pace of our front line forced SS to play three defenders so deep I actually wondered if they were going to come and sit next to me at one point.
The second goal of the day was my favourite, Yaya cut inside from the left touchline and played a waist-high ball to someone on the other side of the six yard box. The goalie dived to catch it but the onrushing Christian got there first, the ball hit his backside and went in. Christian was very modest in his celebration. If I had scored that, I'd invite everyone to applaud my bottom.
So by half time the outcome was sure, but Muangthong were not done. After all, things are so tight at the top that goal difference could still decide the title if Chonburi beat us at their place.
As MTU attacked the Ultras Stand in the second half, I recall Kone scoring a goal that I don't remember much about. Around the same time, Zaizen started feeling his legs and it was obvious he was spent for the day. He was replaced by Kaewprom, whom I have still to make up my mind about. He always looks like he might do something good, but doesn't always do it.
Goal number four was the classiest of the day. Kone (or his twin) received the ball from Yaya just outside the box. He could easily have taken the shot himself but instead he played it back to Yaya, who takes aim, gets his head down and wacks it in. Great teamwork, great finish, great double forward flip from Yaya as he celebrates.
Goal number five came from the forgotten man, Leesaw, who had replaced Christian. The bright haired one had already had a couple of golden chances that he blew and I couldn't help wondering if half his mind was on Isaan food, if you get what I mean. But I was forced to eat my words - tastier than som tam bplaa, to be fair - when he received a rather wild and deep cross that he took down and hit low for his first goal in some time.
Job done, and done in style. It got even better when news came through of Chonburi's defeat. True, Buriram is becoming a difficult place to visit and we still have to go there but Chonburi also have to visit the Leo Stadium, where BG have improved greatly under their new coach. As we approach the halfway mark, it still seems a case of a two horse race for the title that will be decided by holding of nerves, but there are still two other horses sneaking up from behind.
Man of the match -
At the risk of sounding highly cliched, this really was a solid team performance rather than any outstanding individual effort. Five goals from five different players, after all. Therefore this MOM decision troubled me more than any other, but I have to give it to Christian Yao Kouakou. Before he was subbed in the second half he displayed his usual strengths but also showed some new sides to his game. He hit one through ball that was so inch perfect, Platini would have been proud of it and at other times he appeared to show that his pace is increasing. It doesn't take a genius to figure that Yaya may not be around forever, so it's good to know we have another player that could eventually start giving defenders nightmares.