The Week In Korea – Round 11 & 12
The K-League offered a busy schedule of games, with two rounds being played Saturday through to Friday. The team of the week was by far Daejeon Citizen.
Going into these fixtures they had won only one game all season, yet collected four points in these two matches. Saturday’s game against league leaders Suwon Samsung Bluewings seemed a forgone conclusion. Suwon have looked clinical and incisive all season, with Daejeon looking the exact opposite. This fixture though carried a lot of significance for the political rivalry between the two sides. Suwon are a free spending team thanks to their owners Samsung while Daejeon are owned by Daejeons’ citizens and fans and have a far smaller budget each year.
Daejeon’s awful recent form and Suwons’ commanding performances gave the Purple Army little confidence of getting anything from this game. It came as an immense shock to every K-League follower when Belgian striker Kevin Oris (the first ever Belgian to appear in the K-League, stat fans) struck a wonderful goal in the 94th minute to secure Daejeon a historic victory and only their second win of the season.
Daejeon built on this victory when they travelled to Pohang the following Friday night and battled to a scoreless draw. Though this time they picked up a point as opposed to three, it was a fine team performance and completed a very good week for the Citizen who have now moved level on points with Incheon.
Incheon would have been crushed after their game with Jeonbuk. Leading 3-1 with only injury time remaining, Jeonbuk managed to come back and level the score in the dying seconds. To have such a huge result snatched away from them would have hurt the Incheon players, who then went down 1-0 away to Seongnam in their second game, again conceding a very late goal.
On the Saturday, FC Seoul claimed another home victory beating Pohang 2-1. Seoul went ahead inside 20 seconds; their winger skipped past his opposing full back and pulled back for Choi to slam home. Seoul held that advantage until half time draw but had their keeper to thank for two great stops and Pohang’s wastefulness in front of goal. Derek Asamoah finally drew Pohang level early in the second half following a swift counter attack.
After the 60 minute mark Seoul began to take control of the game and Mauricio Molina went extremely close with an excellent left footed volley from outside of the box. Substitute Kim eventually scored the winner after an excellent pass from Molina, chipped over the Pohang defence. Seoul were deserving of their victory but Pohang must look at their inability to convert chances. This game could have been out of Seoul’s reach by the time the home side woke up.
Ulsan went into Sunday’s game against struggling Chunnam knowing a win would see them take top spot after Suwon’s inexplicable slip up. Ulsan were dominating the game but were unable to create any clear chances with Chunnam throwing bodies behind the ball and in the way of any Ulsan effort. Ulsan were finding it hard to play through the massed ranks of black and white shirts and started resorting to long range efforts. In the 75th minute Ulsan had a header excellently denied by the goalkeeper, turning the effort against the post and then managing to hook the rebound away with his feet. Finally, in the 85th minute Ulsan playmaker Go Seul-Ki advanced into the Chunnam half and fired a blistering shot from 30 yards into the net, giving Ulsan the victory they needed to go top.
This hard work was undone on the following Friday though when Ulsan lost at Jeonbuk 2-1, after going behind by two goals in the first 20 minutes. This allowed Suwon the opportunity to reclaim top spot on Sunday, which they did in style, hammering Gwangju 4-1 after going a goal down.
The title race is still wide open, whilst the bottom of the table is now starting to to turn into a real fight.
Read my tactical analysis of Daejeon Citizen over at www.aseasonasacitizen.blospot.com
Seongnam 1 – 1 Jeju United
Seoul 2 – 1 Pohang Steelers
Incheon United 3 – 3 Jeonbuk Motors
Gangwon 0 – 3 Sangju Sangmu
Busan I’Park 1 – 0 Gyeongnam
Daejeon Citizen 2 – 1 Suwon Bluewings
Gwangju 2 – 2 Daegu
Ulsan 1 – 0 Chunnam Dragons
Jeonbuk Motors 2 – 1 Ulsan
Seongnam 1 – 0 Incheon United
Pohang Steelers 0 – 0 Daejeon Citizen
Sangju Sangmu 1 – 2 Chunnam Dragons
Gyeongnam 0 – 1 Seoul
Busan I’Park 2 – 0 Daegu
Jeju United 4 – 2 Gangwon
Suwon Bluewings 4 – 1 Gwangju
1. Suwon Bluewings 26
2 Jeju United 25
3 Seoul 25
4 Ulsan 24
5 Busan I’Park 22
6 Jeonbuk Motors 21
7 Seongnam 17
8 Daegu 17
9 Pohang Steelers 15
10 Chunnam Dragons 14
11 Gwangju 14
12 Sangju Sangmu 11
13 Gangwon 11
14 Gyeongnam 8
15 Incheon United 7
16 Daejeon Citizen 7