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FA Cup: No Treble for Jeonbuk, Favorites Go Through

The Round of 16 of the 2015 Hanabank Korean FA Cup took place earlier today (or I suppose, last night, depending on where you live). With a whopping 8 games to cover with nearly identical kickoff times, the results came in quickly and furiously. After the dust had settled, only 8 teams remained standing, and among the slain were the mighty Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

No treble for Choi Kanghee
Pohang 2:1 Jeonbuk

In what was clearly the marquee match of the Fifth Round, league-leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors travelled to the Steelyard to face Hwang Sun-hong's Pohang Steelers. The "Green Machine" with treble aspirations ran into a Pohang side who were up for the challenge. Manager Hwang said before the match that: "The players always perform better when we face Jeonbuk." Jeonbuk gaffer Choi Kang-hee admitted before the match that spars between the Steelers and Jeonbuk are "like a derby."

So off we went then, with the two sides fielding vastly different XI's with respect to player rotation. Pohang made (I believe) only 1 change to the side that played on the weekend, whereas Jeonbuk rested Edu, Eninho and Lee Jae-sung. Pohang were on the front foot in the first half and were rewarded by Shim Dong-woon's blast into the top corner to put the Steelers ahead. The second half saw the visitors get more opportunities, and later bring on their key players as desperation subs. Despite this, it was a corner kick which Jeonbuk did not deal with that was their demise. Park Seung-ho got the goal. Jeonbuk made it interesting near the end with a superb individual goal by Lee Dong-gook, but it wouldn't be enough to salvage the Green Machine's treble aspirations. Don't worry, Jeonbuk. You'll still win the league.

Favorites scared
Hwaseong 1:2 FC Seoul
Seongnam 2:1(AET) Yeungnam University

Choi Yong-soo's FC Seoul made the relatively short trip down to Hwaseong Stadium to play 4th tier side Hwaseong FC. Although Choi chose to rest some key players suck as Park Chu-young, Yun Ju-tae, Ko Myong-jin and Molina, their squad should have been enough to see the hosts off. They had regular netminded Kim Yong-dae between the sticks and with Yun Il-lok and Everton occupying the wings, surely the capital city club were in for an easy win. Hwaseong made them work however, with Shim Sang-min's run creating a goal for Everton only in the 44th minute. The hosts equalized through an own goal and it was down to Yun Ju-tae's blast in the 89th minute for the Seoulites to advance to the Quarter-finals.

Seongnam, however, needed extra time and two gifts from visiting Yeungnam University to advance. The Magpies needed a comical own goal by the University side to take the lead, but later relinquished it due to awful keeping by Jeon Sang-wook. The keeper spilled the ball in the path of a player in red and white, who made no mistake. In extra time, it was a failed clearance by the Yeungnam keeper that allowed substitute Hwang Eui-jo to finally convert a chance (after 3/4 shots since coming on) and save Seongnam's blushes. Nonetheless, the prominent University side showed why they made the Quarter-Finals of this tournament last year, and were very close to doing so again this season. Keep your eye on some of these Yeungnam Uni graduates! Some may have a bright career in football ahead of them.

Crazy start for Jeonnam and Chungju, crazy finish for Ulsan and Daejeon
Chungju 1:4 Jeonnam
Ulsan Hyundai 3:2(AET) Daejeon Citizen

There were 3 goals inside 20 minutes at the Chungju Stadium when Chungju Hummel and Jeonnam Dragons did battle in their match. Noh Hyung-goo opened the scoring for the hosts but Jeonnam stuck back through Jeon Hyeon-cheol two minutes later. Ahn Young-woo gave the visitors the lead on 19 minutes, while rising star Lee Jong-ho consolidated that lead in the 42nd minute. Jeon Hyeon-cheol completed his brace in the 72nd minute to ensure that the Dragons go through to the last 8. They are two times champions of the Korean FA Cup, but can they take a third this season?

Meanwhile, over in Ulsan, we had a crazy finish to the game. Yoo Joon-soo opened the scoring for the Tigers right before the whistle blew for halftime. The 70th minute saw in-form Brazilian saviour Adriano score another vital goal to level the match up - the in-form striker back to his old tricks. Extra time came and in the 99th minute, Kim Shin-wook converted the penalty to put the hosts back up. But not so fast - breakout player Hwang Ji-woong leveled the scoring again 3 minutes later. Penalties beckoned, but Kim Shin-wook had another players - the towering striker scoring just seconds into the second half of extra time. This time, there would be no miraculous comeback, and Ulsan Hyundai will march on to the quarter-finals, although not without some difficulty.

And all the others...
Daejeon Korail 1:2 Jeju
Cheonan City 0:1 Incheon
Gangwon 0:1 Ulsan Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Dolphins FC* 

Daejeon Korail and Cheonan City were not as easy to dispatch as road-win-devoid Jeju and lacking-in-depth Incheon would have liked, but the end result was all the same for the two K League sides. Jeju's stars showed up after going down early to the 3rd-tier side, with striker Kim Hyun (who's going to have more responsibilities now that Kang Soo-il has been suspended for 15 games) and creative midfielder Song Jin-hyung both tallying for the Islanders. Incheon struck in the 84th minute through Kim Jin-hwan to beat a pesky Cheonan side.

We will have one representative from the lower leagues in the Quarter Finals however, but who would it be, Gangwon or that other team from Ulsan? It would ultimately end up being the Dolphins, who scored through Park Han-soo. Can they make the finals again like they did in 2005, the only non-K League club to ever do so? (That fact brought to my attention by @junhosix on Twitter).

*I love their name, because it gives me a challenge to remember what order everything goes in. Please keep on winning. 

Quarter-Final ties
So after a hectic day of searching for online streams (with questionable success) and following updates from the KFA and the few K League teams that actually use Twitter, the 8 victors had been declared (with my team Daejeon missing out...) and the Quarter-Final ties had been determined.

Jeju United vs Incheon United
Seongnam FC vs Ulsan Hyundai
FC Seoul vs Pohang Steelers
Ulsan Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Dolphins vs Jeonnam Dragons

All fixtures will be played on July 22nd. See you then, as the battle for an Asian Champions League berth and the honour of hoisting the Korean FA Cup trophy continues!

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