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AFC Recap: FC Tokyo 0-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Kim Bo-kyung opened the scoring for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in their ACL clash with FC Tokyo.  (Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
Kim Bo-kyung opened the scoring for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in their ACL clash with FC Tokyo.
(Photo Credit: Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)
On a night where they were required to step-up, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors put in a professional and disciplined performance against group leaders FC Tokyo, leaving Japan with three goals, three points and a clean sheet.

Choi Kang-hee made the bold choice of barely altering his squad from the team that had run out 3-2 winners in Saturday’s dramatic game against Seongnam FC. Leonardo was brought in to replace Luiz, and right-back Lee Ju-yong was removed for Choi Jae-soo. There was a slight shuffle in midfield position, with Lee Jae-sung returning to attack midfield, Leonardo on the left flank whilst Lopes occupied the right. The rest of the positions however, remained the same.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors line-up to face FC Tokyo in the AFC Champions League (Image generated using Line-up 11 app)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors line-up to face FC Tokyo in the AFC Champions League (Image generated using Line-up 11 app)
Having averaged approximately five changes to the outfield players between each competitive game this year, the team news came as quite the surprise. As such, the team has been lacking some consistency in their performances. The only danger now would be the loss of face if my constant calls for the same line-up resulted in failure.

FC Tokyo's line-up was notable for the inclusion of their reserve keeper Kentaro Kakoi, a player yet to make his professional debut. Despite this eyebrow-raising inclusion, the Japanese side lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as predicted by J.League Regista's Stuart. Higashi and Maeda led the line, with Hanyu, Ha Dae-sung, Yonemoto and Mizunuma taking up the midfield mantle (from left to right respectively). The back line was comprised of Komano, Maruyama, Yoshimoto and Tokunga.

The game offered little of note for the first half an hour. both teams set up to defend and play on the counter, with Tokyo requiring a victory to see them through to the knockout rounds. Jeonbuk’s Kim Bo-kyung and Lopes seemed threatening though, offering flashes of skill that ultimately amounted to nothing. The K-League champions were after rigidity it appeared.

The deadlock was broken in the 36th minute however, when great link up play between the two wingers culminated in Lopes slotting a through ball to Kim Bo-kyung. The central midfielder had found himself in space behind two of the Tokyo defenders but still onside as he turned and cooly placed his shot past Tokyo’s debutant keeper and into the far corner.

Having started the last four games and scoring the late winner against Seongnam, Kim Bo-kyung’s recent return from injury seems to have greatly helped Jeonbuk in finding some consistency, especially with his partnership with Lee Jae-sung. Perhaps the champions would be making good on their title favourites tag if he had not been injured so early on into this year’s campaign.

With FC Tokyo now in need of coming forward, Jeonbuk’s counter attacking set-up began to take hold. Opportunities slowly began to present themselves, with Leonardo notably cutting inside and letting fly from just outside the area, only for his shot to head inches over the crossbar.

Motors carried their new-found momentum into the second half, whereas FC Tokyo’s defence seemed to have clocked out for the evening. If it were not for an inability to finish, the Korean side could have put this game to bed before the hour mark.

First, Tokyo’s debutant keeper made a hospital pass out to his defence that was quickly picked up by an onrushing Leonardo. Unfortunately for the winger, his first touch was too heavy and the keeper was able to make amends before he could get his shot away. Shortly after, a dangerous back pass from midfield that cut open their own defence played Lee Jae-sung through own goal. The Premier League linked midfielder was unable to pull the trigger though, with the defence rushing back to clean up.

When yet another misplaced Tokyo pass in central midfield was intercepted by Lee Jae-sung, Jeonbuk broke away with pace. The attacking midfielder played it out left to Lee Dong-gook who brought it to the edge of the box, stopped and crossed it over to an unmarred Kim Bo-kyung. The central midfielder scuffed his shot downwards but, as it bounced up, was pounced on by Lee Jae-sung who headed home from close range.

Choi Kang-hee removed both his wingers shortly after, possibly to rest them for Sunday. Han Kyo-won and Ko Moo-Yeol were introduced to the proceedings, injecting more pace to strike fear into an increasingly fragile Tokyo defence. Lee Dong-gook was also later removed to make way for Kim Shin-wook.

In the 79th minute, FC Tokyo were presented with their best chance of the game when their left back Komano Yuchi broke down the wing and fired in a cross. Lim Jong-eun failed to get his head on it resulting in the chance being presented to Abe Takuma, who's poor touch pushed the ball away from him and his subsequent shot fired into the side-netting. FC Tokyo would go on to fail to have one shot on target throughout the entire 90 minutes, a credit to Jeonbuk's defending perhaps.

As the match entered injury time, it was Jeonbuk’s two fresh wingers that were to put FC Tokyo to the sword. A long ball from the keeper into the FC Tokyo box (not too dissimilar from the one portrayed in Seongnam’s pre-match jibe on Saturday) was latched onto by Han Kyo-won who beat the defence, took the ball to the byline and cut it back for the incoming Ko Moo-yeol to finish.

As the full-time whistle went, the home team went off to audible boos and jeers, whilst the few away fans who had made the trip must have been delighted to witness one of their teams most convincing performances this year.

Jeonbuk manager was quick to heap praise on his central midfield Kim Bo-kyung, saying that "he played and showed good combination work in midfield" before adding that he hopes he can still do more to develop his game.

While FC Tokyo will now require a win in Vietnam to see them through, Jeonbuk have lowered their qualification requirements to just a draw against Jiangsu in a fortnight’s time. If they can repeat this level of professionalism, discipline and authority, they should have no issue with progression. It seems the K-League champions will be turning up in 2016 after all.

Final Score: FC Tokyo 0-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Full match highlights can be viewed on Daum.

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