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 By Paul Murphy

More Kawin heroics as Muang Thong stay top of Premier League of Thailand

Thailand goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan followed up his midweek heroics against Japan with a vital penalty save as Muang Thong United edged closer the Premier League of Thailand (PLT) title with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Sukhothai.

While the Thai national side lost last Tuesday's World Cup qualifier 2-0 to the Samurai Blue in Bangkok, Kawin made a serious of superb saves to prevent a rout. He played another huge role as his club stayed three points clear of Bangkok United, with just five games to go.

The Bangkok Angels won 4-2 at Sisaket but they are now running out of games to overhaul the league leaders. The victory did, however, confirm that they would finish in the top two and earn a place in the AFC Champions League (ACL) playoffs.

Here are five things we saw in PLT Matchday 29:

1. Kawin stars again as Muang Thong stay top

Muang Thong United overcame arguably the biggest remaining hurdle in the season's run-in as they emerged victorious in Sukhothai. The Firebats had won six of their previous eight games, and had lost just twice at home this season.

Several of the Kirins' players had been involved in Thailand's World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Japan, as well as the friendly against Qatar. Both teams then had to deal with a first-half power cut that caused a 30-minute delay.

Thailand goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan
Thailand goalkeeper Kawin saved a penalty in Muang Thong's 1-0 away victory.

But the league leaders earned three points through Cleiton Silva's first-half penalty. John Baggio gave the visitors a scare when his lob hit the bar before Sukhothai had a penalty of their own in the second half. But Hiromichi Katano's effort was saved by Thailand's number one, and Kawin also made an outstanding late stop when he pushed Renan Marques' header onto the bar.

Muang Thong's remaining five games are all against teams in the lower half of the league, with relegated BBCU next up. The title is now theirs to lose, in no small part thanks to Kawin and the crossbar in Sukhothai.

2. Sergio steers Suphanburi towards safety

A run of poor form had left last season's third-placed team Suphanburi in danger of being dragged into the relegation scrap. But Dellatorre struck twice in the second half to ensure that it was opponents Nakhon Ratchasima who would be looking nervously over their shoulders.

The Brazilian's brace was followed by a strike from Chananan Phombupha before Pralong Sawandee's consolation goal saw the match end 3-1 in the home side's favour. The War Elephant are now in 10th place, seven points from the relegation zone, while the Swatcats still have work to do as they are just four points clear of 16th-placed Super Power Samut Prakan.

Suphanburi boss Sergio Farias is already looking towards the 2017 season.

Suphanburi head coach Sergio Farias insisted that relegation was not a major concern. 

"Regardless of the number of points required to stay in the PLT, we are just trying to move up the league table," he told ESPN FC. "We have been playing well without getting the goals and results we deserve. An injury to Dellatorre and the international break didn't really help."

But former Pohang Steelers boss Farias is already looking to 2017.

"This year, the team did not have a good preseason and there have been three changes of coach. To perform well takes good planning and proper training. We are looking at these factors and hope to be at a better level next season."

3. Bangkok Glass jaw exposed again

Buriram United's Bruno Moreira scored in added time to leave Aurelio Vidmar still seeking his first PLT win as Bangkok Glass head coach. The Portuguese striker's excellent winner came after Ariel Rodriguez had levelled the score, following Kaio Felipe's penalty for the hosts.

The result moves the champions four points clear of the Glass Rabbits, and leaves them favourites to finish in third place and to claim an ACL playoff spot. It also gave new head coach Ranko Popovic the perfect start to his reign at the Thunder Castle after replacing Afshin Ghotbi last month.

Australia U23 coach Aurelio Vidmar
Former Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar is still looking for his first PLT win with Bangkok Glass.

Vidmar's club have consistently failed to defeat teams from the top end of the league over the last two seasons, and have lost all six games against the three teams above them this year. The Australian now has a battle on his hands to lift the team for the last five games. Bangkok Glass have now gone five matches without a victory, at the worst possible time.

4. Dennis lifts Super Power

Brazilian striker Dennis Murillo hit what could be a decisive hat trick as Super Power Samut Prakan beat Chainat 4-2 in a battle between two relegation candidates. Both sides squandered several good chances before Lee Hyun-Woong put the home side in front in the 54th minute. Former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle headed the visitors level before Murillo took over in the final 17 minutes.

His header put the Super Power back in front, and he kept his cool to make it 3-1 with a left-footed shot in the 84th minute. Murillo completed his hat trick from the penalty spot before Sinama Pongolle got his second in added time.

The result lifts Super Power above the Hornbills, and Chainat face another huge game next week when they travel to meet fellow strugglers Army United next Saturday.

Josimar, Army United striker
A brace from Josimar eased the relegation worries of Army United.

5. Josimar to the rescue for Army United

After five straight defeats and just one win in 13 games, it seemed as if Army United were sleepwalking their way to relegation. A series of uninspired performances made it look as if nothing could halt the slide.

An away clash at doomed BBCU was the perfect opportunity to lift them out of the relegation zone. But the first 80 minutes of the game provided ample evidence of just why Army are in their current predicament as a lacklustre performance saw the game remain goalless.

But a foul on Nipol Kamthong earned Army a penalty with just five minutes remaining, and Josimar's 'Panenka' looked like giving the visitors three precious points. The lead lasted less than a minute as Akarawin Sawasdee smashed home the equaliser from the edge of the box.

But a debatable handball decision gave Josimar a second opportunity from the spot, and the Brazilian delivered again to edge Army two points clear of the drop zone.

The defeat also confirmed BBCU's relegation after just one year in the top tier. At the same time, Thai Honda sealed promotion to the PLT for 2017.

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

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