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Recap: Daejeon Citizen 1-2 Bucheon 1995

On Ko Jongsoo's managerial debut Daejeon Citizen suffered their sixth opening day defeat in as many seasons, this time succumbing to a later winner from Gong Minhyun which ensured Saturday's visitors Bucheon 1995 got their playoff push off to a positive start.
(Image via K League)
Life under new manager Ko Jongsoo began with defeat for Daejeon Citizen with the Purples falling to a 2-1 home defeat to playoff hopefuls Bucheon 1995 on the opening day of the season.

A debut goal for Willian Popp got Bucheon off to the perfect start, converting from close range but 10 minutes before the interval, the home side drew level through Yun Junseong, who found space to calmly slot home from a free kick from close range.

Heading into the last five minutes it did appear as though Citizen were on the cusp of earning themselves a very credible draw against an inventive Bucheon side who inspired by the introduction of Jin Changsoo at half time. However, with 85 minutes on the clock, 28-year-old striker Gong Minhyun netted Bucheon’s winner, much to the delight of the travelling support a mere few feet away, to condemn Citizen to defeat in what was their first home opener in five years.

As well as fledgling Citizen gaffer Ko Jongsoo suffering defeat on his managerial debut, the result did very little to help lift the dark clouds that lurk above Purple Arena. The atmosphere at Daejeon World Cup Stadium was somewhat subdued with some sections of supporters protesting against the current regime. On the pitch, however, Citizen lined up in a 4-1-3-2 formation with no fewer than seven players making their Purples debut.

The hosts actually started the brightest with their most recent Brazilian import Pedro Henrique at the spearhead of Citizen’s attack looking to get involved from the very off, making a nuisance of himself with his height and strength.

In fairness there was plenty of endeavour amongst those donning purple: in particular debutant and former Gangwon skipper Baek Jonghwan who had a solid afternoon at right full back. New skipper Oh Jangeun looked relatively assured, if not a little quiet, and was deployed in marshalling role in front of the back four, often dropping into central defence whilst the likes of Yun Junseong and Ko Myeongseok stepped up.

Although the Purples were the quickest out of the blocks, against the run of play, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock with just 13 minutes on the clock. New boy Willian Popp, who scored against Daejeon at Purple Arena whilst playing for Busan IPark in 2016, got Bucheon off to a perfect start in his Bucheon career with a goal on his debut.

From Bucheon skipper Moon Kihan’s corner, no fewer than eight Daejeon players stood in a line, including captain Oh Jangeun who allowed his man, centre back Lim Donghyuk, to rise unopposed and nod the ball down to Popp who, with only the goalkeeper to beat, found the back of the net with ease. Two Citizen players went for the same ball, and with Jeon Sanghoon guarding the far post observing it all, questions will be asked as to how a player of Popp's ilk managed to find himself unmarked.

Alas, the the goal aside, the hosts did have the better of the first half and so could have perhaps felt aggrieved by being a goal down so soon into the game. But, just after the half hour mark the Purples got a deserved equaliser with centre back Yun Junseong converting from close range after getting on the end of a teasing Jeon Sanghoon free kick.

Pedro Henrique took a high boot to the head from Bucheon captain Moon Kihan to earn Citizen the free kick. The Brazilian was patched up and, after a few minutes of receiving treatment, full back Jeon Sanghoon and Park Suchang stood over the ball to take the free kick.

With his left foot, Jeon Sanghoon's out-swinging cross made its way to the edge of the six-yard box and with Bucheon players stood on the 18-yard line, Yun Junseong was able to ghost through and slot home with a tidy right-footed finish into the bottom corner.

Yun's marker fell over, left back Kim Junyeop stood and watched back's as the centre back advanced into towards the six-yard area. A good delivery from Jeon Sanghoon and somewhat of a striker's finish from a centre back had Citizen level.

After the goal Daejeon seemed to grow in confidence with their passing looking more assured in and around the midfield area and so heading into the break level was no less than the Purples deserved.

Citizen started the second period brightly had a good opportunity to get their noses in front shortly after the restart with a move that started in the right full back area. The back-tracking Kim Seongjoo out-muscled his man to win the ball back before releasing it to Ahn Sanghyeon who duly played in Pedro on the half way line. The Brazilian drove the ball forward before laying it out wide to left winger Kim Seungseop who made a beeline towards goal before trying to usher the ball onto his left foot but his attempt on goal was tame and was calmly lapped up by Bucheon 'keeper Choi Cheolwon.

Much like it was in the first period, Daejeon continued with their tactic of trying to get the ball into Pedro as quickly as possible, often by completely by-passing the midfield in order to allow the 26-year-old to bring wingers Kim Seongjoo and Kim Seungseop into play with long balls.

Daejeon were rather panicked and frantic style of play in the final third, however, and were often incapable of picking up second balls. Bucheon duly obliged with the likes of Moon Kihan, Nilson Jr. and Jin Changsoon mopping up and getting the ball into Popp and Gong Minhyun.

In stark contrast, Daejeon Citizen's Park Suchang was largely anonymous. The midfielder was supposed to be the link between midfield and attack, especially given how deep Oh Jangeun and Ahn Sanghyeon were sitting, but a lack of positional sense created too much of a gap and so Pedro was forced to drop deeper in order to receive the ball.

In their own third, Citizen looked somewhat comfortable and even played the ball around well at times. But, problems arose when Daejeon looked to move the ball up the pitch, seemingly unable to do so without resorting to long punts forward to Pedro who, by now, was well scouted by Bucheon's back four.

With Daejeon incapable of winning second balls, the better of the chances fell to the visitors who, had it not have been for the woodwork, could have been out of sight. On 64 minutes Jin Changsoo, with his back to goal, cleverly rolled off of Yun Junseong and played in Gong Minhyun who, despite the best efforts of former teammate Ko Myeongseok, was able to steady himself for a right-footed strike on goal. Kim Jinyoung between the sticks for Citizen was beaten but the crossbar prevented the Purples from being 2-1 down.

As the second half advanced into the last 20 minutes Citizen looked leggy and were hanging on somewhat. Popp fluffed his lines despite being unopposed just eight yards out but soon after Jin Changsoo rattled the crossbar again for Bucheon in what was perhaps an indication of what was to come.

Popp, who was instrumental throughout, laid the ball into captain Moon Kihan whose first time ball to Nilsen Jr. was delicately lofted over the top into the path of Jin Changsoo. The former Goyang Zaicro midfielder's shot was struck well but ratted the crossbar and Daejeon lived to fight another day.

That was until the 85th minute when Bucheon were able to find a winner. The scorer of Bucheon’s first, Willian Popp started the move, finding himself in acres of space in the middle of the pitch. Dropping deeper to protect a prospective point, Daejeon's two holding midfielders allowed the former Busan forward the time to lay the ball out wide to full back Ahn Taehyun on the right hand side. Ahn's dangerous ball across the front of goal towards the six yard box caused panic in Daejeon’s back four who weren’t alert enough to prevent Gong Minhyun from finding the bottom corner from point blank range. With the hosts unable to find a reply, the game finished Daejeon Citizen 1-2 Bucheon 1995.

Daejeon gaffer Ko Jongsoo was quick to take responsibility for the defeat whilst also asserting that his players simply didn’t transfer their work from the training ground onto the pitch. In the first period, Daejeon’s tactic to lump the ball forward to Pedro seemed to be working, certainly if the likes of Park Suchang, Kim Seongjoo and Kim Seungseup were able to latch on to Pedro’s flick-ons with any modicum of composure. However, Citizen ran out of ideas and lacked composure when it mattered.


Substitutes: Lim Minhyeok (GK), Ahn Jaejoon, Park Jaewoo, Ko Minseong (Oh Jangeun '68), Park Daehoon (Kim Seungseop '79), Yoo Haeseong (Kim Seongjoo '59), Jung Minwoo

Substitutes: Lee Kihyun (GK), Jang Soonhyeok (Park Kun '46), Kim Jaewoo, Lee Jungchan, Kim Hanbin, Jin Changsoo (Lee Kwangjae '46), Hwang Jinsan (Popp '86)

Attendance: 2,172
Referee: Seo Dongjin
Assistants: Kang Dongho, Jang Jongpil
Fourth Official: Oh Hyunjin

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