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 By Paul Murphy

Jaja Coelho goal keeps Buriram United on course for Thailand glory

Buriram United squad 2016
Buriram United hold a six-point lead over Muang Thong United at the top of the Thai table.

Buriram United striker Jaja Coelho was the hero once again as the leaders edged to a 1-0 victory at home to Chiang Rai United, moving them closer to the Thai League (T1) title.

The Brazilian has now netted 24 times in a hugely impressive season, outshining compatriot Diogo Luis Santo, who has recently been struggling for form and fitness.

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Muang Thong United stayed six points off the pace by beating 10-man Ratchaburi 3-0, but Bangkok United suffered a surprise setback as they lost 1-0 at Pattaya United.

Here are five things we saw on T1 Matchday 26:

1. Jaja keeps Buriram on course

Hosting fourth-placed Chiang Rai United was always going to be one of the most challenging of Buriram's remaining fixtures as they aim for their fourth title win in five years.

As it turned out, Jaja's 42nd-minute goal was enough to settle a tight affair and leave Buriram in a very strong position going into the final eight games of the season.

The visitors' defence was posted missing when the unmarked Brazilian rose to head in Narubadin Weerawatnodom's cross at the back post.

With former Buriram head coach Alexandre Gama in charge, Chiang Rai stayed in the game and almost snatched an equaliser in added time when former Buriram striker Jandson Dos Santos headed over from close range.

Bozidar Bandovic's side survived, and the title is now theirs to lose.

2. Muang Thong stay in touch

Muang Thong United's title challenge may be looking more desperate with each Buriram victory, but they made sure they would keep their rivals on their toes with a straightforward win at home to Ratchaburi.

Leandro Assupmcao's second-minute goal set the Kirins on their way before the champions received a helping hand when Philip Roller was red-carded in the 33rd minute.

Heberty Fernandes then netted against his former club to double the lead before Tristan Do rounded off things with a 20-yard volley with just under 10 minutes to go.

Heberty Fernandes, a former Ratchaburi player, netted against his old club for Muang Thong United.

Muang Thong's hopes of retaining their title may be looking remote, but they look determined to push Buriram all the way.

3. Pattaya put the brakes on Bangkok United

In a clash between two of T1's in-form sides, Peeradol Chamratsamee's late strike gave Pattaya United their fifth successive win, while condemning Bangkok United to their first defeat since May, ending an eight-game winning streak.

Mano Polking's side had won 12 of their last 13, prompting speculation that they may be in a position to make a late charge for the title. But the Bangkok Angels were brought back to earth as the Blue Dolphins gave a vibrant performance.

Peeradol's powerful long-range strike sparked wild celebrations as the side who were recently battling relegation consolidated their position in eighth spot.

And Bangkok United will be left to rue the timing go the five-week break for the Southeast Asian Games and World Cup qualifiers, coming as it did when they were in rampant form.

4. Sukhothai heap pressure on Kiatisuk

Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang
Former national boss Kiatisuk Senamuang has earned just five points in eight games in charge of Port FC.

With just one victory in seven T1 games since joining with much fanfare in June, Port FC head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang was in desperate need of a win when his side faced Sukhothai at the PAT Stadium.

Three goals in the first 12 minutes gave the game a frantic start as Kongnateechai Boonma netted for the visitors before Sergio Suarez and Nitipong Selanon quickly turned things around in the hosts' favour.

When David Rochela slotted home a penalty on the hour mark, Kiatisuk must have been confident of securing a much-needed three points.

But John Baggio pulled one back in the 81st minute before earning the penalty from which former Port man Rodrigo Maranhao gleefully netted the equaliser.

Maranhao was a popular figure among the Port support for his performances in their promotion winning campaign last year. The decision not to give him a new deal surprised a number of fans and his contribution on Sunday ensured another miserable day for former Thailand boss Kiatisuk.

John Baggio of Sukhothai FC
John Baggio pulled a goal back for Sukhothai as they salvaged a late draw at Port FC.

In his eight games at the helm, Port have taken just five points. In the previous eight games under Jadet Meelarp, the Bangkok side won 11.

5. Super Power's sinking feeling

Super Power Samut Prakan's relegation has only been a matter of time and it was finally confirmed with a 3-1 defeat at home to Sisaket.

Super Power still have just one point to their name, and Sunday's defeat left them 27 points behind 15th-placed Sukhothai with eight games remaining.

It has been a truly miserable campaign for the side from Samut Prakan, and there continues to be speculation around their future.

But their fans were at least spared another abject humiliation as a 3-1 defeat was an improvement on some of the many thrashings they have received.

Paul Murphy has lived in Thailand for nine years, contributing to ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express (UK) sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK

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