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Recap: Kim Shin-wook Sinks Seoul as Stadium Sees Record Crowds

Packed: Over 32,000 supporters came out to see the mouth-watering curtain raiser between Jeonbuk Hyundai and FC Seoul.
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
The much anticipated curtain raiser between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and FC Seoul drew a record attendance to the Jeonju World Cup Stadium on Saturday. A total of 32,695 supporters turned up to witness this season's two title favourites go head-to-head, surpassing the previous record of 31,520, set when these two clubs met all the way back in July 2002. Whether it was the fortuitous weather, the prospect of witnessing both teams' exciting new winter signings, or even just the opportunity to finally see live football again, the crowd were in high spirits making for a good stadium atmosphere.

Massive flags being waved/rode before kick off (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Massive flags being waved/rode before kick off (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Jeonbuk made notable changes to the team that was defeated in Jiangsu ten days prior. Choi Kang-hee opted for a more conservative approach in response to Seoul's dominating Champions League performances. Opting for three centre backs in Kim Hyung-il, Lee Ho, and Choi Chul-soon, the manager notably decided to drop new signing Lim Jong-eun to the bench, possibly due to the defensive frailty displayed in their previous outing. Choi Kang-hee also decided to play with three central midfielders, with new signing Paartalu operating in a defensive midfield role behind attacking midfielders Lee Jae-seung and Luis. Park Won-jae and Kim Chang-soo operated as left and right wing backs respectively, supporting the midfield when necessary. Finally, Kim Shin-wook was joined by Lee Dong-gook, a pairing that had worked a lot better than when either of them were left as a lone-front man in the previous two matches.

Understandably FC Seoul remained unchanged, playing the same line-up and formation that had proved so successful against Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Buriram United. Like Jeonbuk, they set up with three at centre back in the form of captain Osmar, Kim Won-sik and Kim Dong-woo. Ko Kwang-min and Ko Yo-han featured as high wing backs, whilst Joo Sejong, Takahagi and Shin Jin-ho made up midfield. Up front saw the formidable duo of Dejan and Adriano, hoping to recreate their exciting form.

The match itself was a tense and scrappy affair at times, not exactly a performance that will convince all of the bumper crowd to make a return. If the club are to focus on retaining their title though, there will be times when these "negative" tactics are required. Not every team can play like Barcelona, most successful teams must be adaptable to their opponents strengths. It was just unfortunate that so many newcomers had to witness it.

That being said, I personally was pleased Choi Kang-hee had sought to address Jeonbuk's weak back line. The K-League has been recently won through strong starts, a clean sheet against title rivals had to be priority, the three point advantage was an added bonus. I am confident that the team will return to attacking ways in the near future though, possibly as early as Tuesday when they face Vietnam's Becamex Binh Duong in the ACL.

Jeonbuk's defence set about tightly marking the FC Seoul attacking line, aiming to stifle the threats of an formidable Adriano, Seoul's returning hero Dejan and playmaker Shin Jin-ho. This is not to say they did not have their chances though.

The game got off to a quick start, with FC Seoul captain Osmar finding himself in plenty of space and firing a long-range warning shot just over the bar. Build-up from Dejan and Takahagi then saw Adriano try to breach the defence, but he fired a tame shot at the keeper after being closed down by Choi Chul-soon.

Seoul's best chance came in the 17th minute when Dejan won the ball back from Choi Chul-soon and played his pass through to an unmarked and oncoming Adriano, it was left to the heroics of Jeonbuk's goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae to make sure the capital club take a first-half lead.

Keeper Kwoun Sun-tae denies an unmarked Adriano with an outstretched leg (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Keeper Kwoun Sun-tae denies an unmarked Adriano with an outstretched leg (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
The 30th minute mark saw perhaps Jeonbuk's closest chance of the game when Luis's direct freek kick stung the palms of keeper Yoo-hun, but nothing was to come of the rebound.

Before the half-time whistle, Seoul were granted another decent opportunity to take the lead. Joo Se-jong making an excellent pass to Ko Yo-han who cut into the box and was denied by a well-timed, last ditch tackle from Lee Ho. While both teams created a few good opportunities, arguably Seoul were having the better game.

The introduction of Leonardo in the second half afforded a few more opportunities to Jeonbuk, the Brazilian midfielder trying a shot from outside the box but aiming narrowly wide.

Jeonbuk's heightened energy in the second half eventually reaped dividends in the 67th minute when a Lee Jae-seung corner was met by the head of the towering Kim Shin-wook, who glanced the ball just beyond the reach of the Seoul keeper. Pandemonium erupted in the stands as one of Jeonbuk's latest additions ensured he had a goal for his league debut.

Kim Shin-wook heads home to make sure Jeonbuk take all three points (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Late substitute and new signing Lopes was then granted two fine opportunities to put the game to bed. The Ex-Jeju striker skewed both of his shots wide however when he was found unmarked in the box on both occasions.

Lopes' missed chance looked set to cost Jeonbuk their advantage as they fastened down the hatches in order to see out the win. This did not stop Adriano though, who twice attempted bicycle kicks in a bid to equalise, but both lacked any real threat.

The full-time cheer from the home team doubled up as a sigh of relief. A large hurdle for this season had been overcome unscathed, even if it is only round one. Hopefully, a few first timers in the crowd will recognise its relevance, have found a new interest, and will return on Tuesday for another must-win game.

Final Score: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1 - 0 FC Seoul

Highlights for the game can be viewed on Daum here.

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