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Recap: Ulsan Hyundai FC 0-0 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Man of the match: Jeonbuk keeper Kwoun Sun-tae spares his team further embarrassment through a number of good saves.
(Photo Credit: JTBC3 Fox)
An exciting goalless draw awaited the 18,000 attendees at Ulsan Hyundai’s Munsu Football Stadium, where the home team put in a good account of themselves against reigning K-League champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Ulsan can consider themselves very unfortunate to not come away from their first game with more than a singular point. For large passages of the game they dominated, pushing Jeonbuk back onto a defence that is coming under an increasing amount of scrutiny. What will hurt most however, is the decision not to award them a goal when Jeonbuk keeper Kwoun Sun-tae’s apparent “Super Save” from Han Sang-woon’s point blank header turned out to clearly cross over the goal line.

Yoon Jong-hwan had made two alterations to his Ulsan line-up from that which suffered a 2-0 defeat to Sangju the weekend before. Han Sang-woon was brought in as an attacking midfielder, replacing Seo Jung-jin, and Kim In-sung was benched in favour for  Kim Seung-jin on the right wing. The defence and goalkeeper, who had a difficult time the week prior, were all kept in the starting eleven.

Ulsan Hyundai FC's Starting 11 against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (Image generated using Line-Up 11)
Ulsan Hyundai FC's Starting 11 (Image generated using Line-Up 11)
Choi Kang-hee opted to once again rotate his squad after their promising midweek performance against Binh Duong, rotating three out of five of the midfield, bringing in Luiz, Han Kyo-won and Lee Ho in at the expense of Erik Paartalu, Lee Jong-ho and Ko Moo-Yeol. He also selected Kim Shin-wook up-front for his much-hyped Ulsan return and restored Kim Hyung-il back to central defence to partner Lim Jong-eun.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Starting 11 against Ulsan Hyundai FC (Image generated using Line-Up 11)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Starting 11 (Image generated using Line-Up 11)
The Jeonbuk manager’s decision to rotate his squad must be called into question. Jeonbuk were handed a Tuesday fixture at home in the ACL, giving the team ample time to recover for this Sunday game. Also, with an international break coming up, there was no need to worry about a fixture the following midweek. Jeonbuk only has two international players called up (Lee Jae-sung and Kim Chang-soo), yet these two were picked and played for the full 90 minutes again, as they have been in every fixture in the 2016 campaign. It sometimes feels the manager is rotating for the sake of rotating, knowing it’s something he will have to eventually do, but has no idea how or when to implement it effectively. Playing a similar line-up to that which had played against Binh Duong would have been far more effective in hindsight, as well as allowing the team to build up some consistency playing with one another.

The opening fifteen minutes saw Ulsan have the majority of the play. A clumsy challenge by Lim Jong-eun on the edge of the box gave way to a direct free kick from Kovacec. After some peculiar set piece tactics from the Ulsan players kneeling in front of the Jeonbuk wall (pictured below), the Croatian took his shot with venom but was matched by keeper Kwoun Sun-tae who proceeded to spill the ball and the rebound was cleared by Jeonbuk defender Choi Chul-soon.

If anyone can clarify the logic behind this tactic then please do comment below. (Photo Credit: JTBC3 Fox)
Around the thirty minute mark, Jeonbuk Hyundai slowly began working themselves into the match. Kim Chang-soo was afforded two opportunities within the space of the 39th minute, with one being saved by Ulsan keeper Kim Yong-dae, and the other being blocked by the defence.

Despite creating opportunities, Jeonbuk found themselves subject to an almost devastating counter-attack in the 41st minute. As Ulsan broke, a chance to clear from the champions’ defence was squandered as a mix-up led to centre back Kim Hyung-il effectively playing in Ulsan striker Lee Jeong-hyeop on goal. Unmarked, the recently recalled Korean international misplaced his shot narrowly wide of the post. A fantastic opportunity had gone begging for the home side. The player can only hope Uli Stielike missed it.

You can't miss those: Lee Jeong-hyeop fails to put away a decent opportunity for Ulsan Hyundai (Photo Credit: JTBC3 Fox)
The second half continued in a similar manner to how the first half had ended. Both teams came out looking to score. Lopes was provided with an opportune volley in the 54th minute, only to blast the ball over the bar. It seemed he was not going to build upon his goal on Tuesday night. Kim Shin-wook was then presented with two chances in quick succession, turning and snatching at the first but lacking the power to trouble the keeper, and the second being a shot across goal that was easy enough for Kim Yong-dae to catch.

Shortly after, the moment that stole the post-match headlines took place. Once again, Jeonbuk were subjected to a quick Ulsan counter attack. Kovacec proceeded to whip in a cross to an unchallenged Han Sang-woon, who leapt to head the ball down into the net. A quick reactionary save from Kwoun Sun-tae looked to have spared Jeonbuk’s blushes and sent the commentators into a flurry of superlatives to describe his reactions. Looking back on multiple replays however, it appeared the ball had crossed the line but it had happened so fast that there was even minimal protest from Ulsan. It seemed Jeonbuk were receiving the luck of champions

It was later shown that, despite Kwoun Sun-taes "Super Save", Han Sang-woon's header had crossed over the line.
(Photo Credit: JTBC3 Fox)
Lee Jeong-hyeop was then on the end of another free header from the resulting corner seconds later, but was held by the keeper. 

Choi Kang-hee, once again taking over sixty minutes to realise Kim Shin-wook cannot play effectively on his own, brought Lee Dong-gook into proceedings for the ineffective Luiz. This saw Lee Ho move up into the central midfield position alongside Lee Jae-sung, with Lee Dong-gook sitting behind Kim Shin-wook.

Not long after, the Jeonbuk manager played his second predictable tactic, brining Leonardo on for fellow Brazilian Ricardo Lopes. Once again, after bringing in two guards from the old regime, the team began to play better.

Kim Shin-wook missed a golden chance to put his old team to the sword, receiving the ball unmarked in the box on the 87th minute, but the ball was bouncing upwards as he unleashed his strike, sending his shot miles over the goal and into the stands

In the final of three additional minutes, Ulsan broke away after Lim Jong-eun failed to control the ball in the centre of the pitch. Whilst Kim Hyung-il and Choi Chul-soon chased down the three oncoming attackers as best as they could, they were outnumbered and the ball was fed to the left where Kovacec was waiting to fire a low drive the goal. Fortunately for Jeonbuk, he drove into straight into the arms of Kwoun Sun-tae who smothered the danger.

Inspirational: Jeonbuk manager Choi Kang-hee looks on as his latest team selection falls short at Ulsan.
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
With the full-time whistle calling time on proceedings, Jeonbuk should be feeling relieved that this match did not prove humiliating, especially considering their two most recent positive performances had shown signs of improvement. There were positive signs, especially after the substitutions, but the manager’s policy of making sweeping changes just to keep everyone happy is going to ultimately prove detrimental to Jeonbuk’s consistency. Seoul won their game 4-0 on Sunday, as well as winning convincingly again in the Champion’s League. This title race is likely going to be tight, Choi Kang-hee would do well to bear this mind when he selects his line-up for the next game at home to Jeju.

Ulsan will feel aggrieved they did not make more of the chances presented to them but will have expected a more troublesome time and would have most likely accepted a point if offered prior to the game. They put in a much-improved display since their torrid opener the week before, producing fast and threatening counter attacks, and will now look forward to continuing bedding-in their new signings after the international break. Next up for them is another home game to a Jeonnam team who could be high on confidence after their late, dramatic comeback against Suwon Bluewings.

Final score: Ulsan Hyundai FC 0 - 0 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Highlights can be found on Daum here.


  1. Kwoun Sun-tae has been playing out of his mind. Maybe Pohang's keeper makes that save but besides that, no one else in KLeague does. He was difference against Seoul last week also.

    1. Why he can't even be considered as one of three keepers in the national team baffles me. He's behind a keeper in the J2 League for crying out loud! Surely a regular player in the AFC and keeper of the domestic champions should be looked at?

  2. Maybe Jeonbuk have too much talent and Choi Kang-hee is about to crack under the strain. Wasn't his reign as the men's national team coach less than stellar?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.


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