Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Guangzhou: Frank Acheampong struck 12 minutes from time to earn Buriram United a well-deserved 2-1 victory over Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday evening as the Thai Premier League champions moved to the top of the standings in Group H of the AFC Champions League.
Buriram’s win was the first ever in the AFC Champions League by a Thai club in China and it was the young Ghanaian who was the architect of the victory, scoring the winner as well as earning the penalty that gave his side the lead first time around.
Acheampong’s pace was the undoing of the Guangzhou defence, with the 18-year-old tormenting Zhang Linpeng to such an extent that he was taken off by coach Lee Jang-soo after just 35 minutes.
By that stage, Acheampong had already seen a goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Zheng Zhi after he skillfully found his way around goalkeeper Yang Jun in the 16th minute.
It was his direct running that earned Buriram their penalty as Acheampong seared into the area and was brought down by Yang, with Suchao Nutnum firing the resulting spot into the top corner to give Buriram the lead in the 62nd minute.
Guangzhou came back via a towering header from Brazilian striker Cleo as he latched onto an in- swinging cross by his compatriot Muriqui eight minutes later, only for Acheampong to prod the ball over the line after Frank Ohandza’s cross in the 78th minute and maintain Buriram’s perfect start to their first-ever AFC Champions League campaign.
“I’m very happy we won,” said Buriram coach Attaphol Puspakom. “In the face of such a strong opponent we thought before the game that we could only score once, but today we managed two and hopefully we can do better in the future.
“Before the game we thought Muriqui, Cleo and Dario Conca were very strong opponents but after 10 minutes of the game we thought that these players made no contribution to the team. In the Thai Premier League there are a lot of players at the same level as them.
“We watched a lot of videos of Guangzhou Evergrande before the game and every team player had a full understanding that Guangzhou Evergrande are not very good at scoring goals.”
Guangzhou coach Lee Jang-soo tried to remain optimistic after a loss that leaves his team on three points from their opening two AFC Champions League matches.
“If we had won or drawn this game we would have more confidence to face our next opponents, Kashiwa,” he said. “Then, when we come back to Guangzhou, all the conditions would have been favourable.
“But there are still a lot of chances because there are four matches left and anything can happen. We need to focus on our preparations for the upcoming games.”