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Recap: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 Suwon Bluewings

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Suwon Samsung Bluewings in K-League Classic
(Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
In a game in which build-up focused on prohibited items to bring into the Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors overcame Suwon Bluewings with the last kick of the game to ensure the reigning champions maintained their position at the league's summit.

Unfortunately, due to a busy schedule and prior commitments, I was originally unable to write this recap. However, seeing as how eventful it turned out to be (off the pitch at least), I thought it would be a shame to overlook. Rather than write up a lengthy post as per usual though, I will just keep to the main talking points but please feel free to add to the discussion below.

Bluewings were at least able to beat the security

Shortly after Scott & I's Writers' Chat went live, Suwon fans began posting on social media a copy of a letter sent to their club from Jeonbuk. The letter was to remind fans about standard prohibited items (pyrotechnics, glass bottles etc) as well as the restriction of banners that could incite hatred or be deemed offensive. An interesting caveat was added though noting that banners criticising the home team or the league's governing body would also not be tolerated, and these would also be checked for in standard bag security checks.

Most of these things are fairly standard around the country, including bag searches (despite their inconsistency in being carried out). The banner information did seem to subtly reference the match-fixing scandal that Jeonbuk are currently embroiled in though. It could be argued that this case is of particular interest to Suwon Bluewings as they may stand to gain if Jeonbuk are stripped of their two most recent titles (despite the initial allegations referring to 2013), but it should also be of interest to all who want to see fairness in a league that has been no stranger to bribery in the past, the repercussions of which can still be felt in attendance figures today.

Finally, while most have tales of it being allowed to slide at their club on occasion, it is also not unusual for security in the K-League to remove banners they deem as protests. I do not agree with it, clubs should be held accountable to supporters when necessary, but it is unlikely a protocol put into play for this one match.

Despite this notice however, Suwon supporters managed to unfurl three banners throughout the game. The first one was of particular interest to me, mainly as it was displayed after kick-off and during a clear foul in the Suwon penalty box on Luiz, which the referee chose to ignore. Did it influence his decision? Probably not, the Brazilian midfielder did go down dramatically, but it was food for thought.

A Comical Own Goal

With both teams probably equal on the balance of play, indulging in a game of football far less entertaining than what was happening in the stands, it was a mix-up between Suwon defender Min Sang-ki and keeper Yang Hyung-mo that would give Jeonbuk the lead they needed just before going in for half-time. The defender, moving in to cut out Luiz's pass to Lee Dong-gook, met the ball and with an ill-advised pass back to a keeper who was definitely not ready for it. Caught wrong footed, the ball was delightfully chipped into the open net, much to the away team's dismay.

Suwon's dominance lacks end product

In fairness to Suwon Bluewings, they still have spells of good play to remind everyone why they were in the Asian Champions League and are (mostly) playing above the standard of the teams they are now surrounded by. The away side came out invigorated in the second half with two very decent chances in the opening second half minutes.

It would not be until the 78th minute though when they finally broke through Jeonbuk's defence. Yeom Ki-hun found himself in space on the edge of the box with the Jeonbuk back line ahead of him. Using the outside of his right foot to control the ball and maneuver himself to face the opposition goal, the Suwon midfielder unleashed a fantastic left-footed strike that left Kwoun Sun-tae rooted to the spot.

Even after pulling level, Suwon had a few chances to snatch the win, with most notably a missed one-on-one opportunity from Kwon Chang-hoon on 80 minutes, who opted to strike the ball straight at Kwoun Sun-tae, after having done so well to create the opportunity in the first place.

So that's what Lee Jong-ho does

With the game looking as if it would culminate in the spoils being shared. It must be said about this Jeonbuk team that when they need to play, they do. And when they play, they can put nearly all K-League teams to shame.

With Choi Kang-hee making three attacking substitutions in the removal of Luiz, Lee Dong-gook and Choi Chul-soon for Kim Shin-wook, Lee Jong-ho and Han Kyo-won, the often conservative manager threw caution to the wind in search for all three points.

His gamble paid off with the last kick of the game. Lopes, storming towards the byline before floating a cross back into the box, found Lee Jong-ho who stepped back and away from his man. The ex-Jeonnam man met the cross with a powerful volley to score his first league goal of the campaign as well as take all three points for the home side.

Ex-Jeonnam man in a Jeonbuk scarf: Lee Jong-ho celebrates poses for photos after the full time whistle.
(Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Full highlights can be viewed here.

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