Super sub Baga bags Victory (19 March 2008)



BANGKOK - Substitute Stephane Baga came on to score two late goals as Thai Premier League champions Chonburi picked up their first win in the AFC Champions League with a stunning 3-1 victory over Australian side Melbourne Victory on Wednesday.

The Cameroonian forward came on with 20 minutes remaining at Supachalasai National Stadium and rifled home a spectacular shot from 30 metres in the 79th minute to restore Chonburi's lead after Daniel Allsopp had cancelled out Fabiano's first-half opener.

The Thais were reduced to ten men with five minutes remaining when Arthit Suntornphit was dismissed after receiving his second caution but Baga settled the matter deep into stoppage time when he drove into the box before sliding the ball past goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos.

Chonburi moved to the top of Group G on goal difference, ahead of Japanese side Gamba Osaka who beat Chunnam Dragons of Korea 4-3 earlier on Wednesday.

The opening 20 minutes were uneventful but the game sparked to life midway through the first half when Fabiano launched a shot from the edge of the Melbourne box that flew just over the crossbar.

On 36 minutes, Fabiano rose high to knock down the ball into the path of Chonburi skipper Pipob On-Mo who surged past the last defender before firing a weak effort that failed to trouble Theoklitos.

The deadlock would be broken though a minute before half-time when a deep cross by Arthit picked out an unmarked Fabiano, who rose unchallenged to send a looping header past Theoklitos.

Melbourne should have drawn level in stoppage time at the end of the firs thalf as Claudio Caceres squared the ball across the face of goal to an unattended Archie Thompson who completely missed the ball from six yards out.

The Australian side drew level two minutes later when a cross from the left flank by Matthew Kemp was turned in by Allsopp in the six-yard box.

The game turned physical and Arthit was lucky to receive only a yellow card in the 65th minute for a lunging challenge on Blagoja Celeski.

Fabiano nearly restored Chonburi's lead two minutes later with a surging run that took him into Melbourne box where he unleashed a shot that took a deflection before coming back off the right post.

Baga came on in the 70th minute and took only nine minutes to make an impact with a superb strike.

The Cameroonian gained possession in the Melbourne half and unleashed a left-footed screamer from 30 metres that flew into the top left corner ofthe Melbourne net giving Theoklitos no chance.

Chonburi held to hold on in the final few minutes with only 10 men when Arthit was needlessly dismissed after being shown a second yellow card for time-wasting but the best chance that Melbourne could muster was a looping header by Allsopp that flew harmlessly over the crossbar.

With the Australian side pushing for an equaliser, Baga caught them on thecounter-attack deep into stoppage time, advancing into the Melbourne box before coolly slotting the ball past Theoklitos.