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Recap: Gyeongnam FC 2-0 Jeju United

K League 1 newcomers Gyeongnam FC continued to tear up the form book and reap further pressure on Jeju United after a tough week for the islanders.  The southerners outplayed Jeju for long periods on Saturday and fully deserved their win even without the services of their leading marksman Marcao, recording a 2-0 win.
(Image via Gyeongnam FC)

The buzz around the club is clearly evident at the moment; fans and players alike all with smiles on their faces. The start to the K League 1 for Gyeongnam has been truly remarkable: two wins from two games. Jeju United rolled into town possessing a great squad and, on paper far superior to what Gyeongnam can offer. The game isn't played on paper though and the ever-improving Reds sent them back to the island empty handed.

The home side made a few changes to their starting line up, one enforced due to Marcao's suspension, with new signing Kim Shin came in to replace him up top. Attacking midfielder and ex-Jeju player Kwon Yong-hyun dropped to the bench for what was a tactical call as his deputy was the more defensive minded Choi Jae-soo on the left hand side of midfield. Jeju United remained relatively unchanged from their draw last weekend against FC Seoul with highly rated Brazilian Roberson leading the line up front.

Gyeongnam came out of the blocks really well and piled pressure on the Jeju defence from the first whistle. Jeju, to their credit, withstood the pressure very well and always looked a threat going forward especially through their diminutive winger Kim Hyeon-wook, his low centre of gravity and quick feet were keeping the home side's defence on their toes, getting into pockets trying to rubber stamp his mark on the game. Kunimoto floating across the middle of the park in the number 10 role, was suiting the Japanese youngster superbly and he was the standout performer in the early stages of the game.

A scrappy affair in the first fifteen minutes with chances few and far between then came to life with the Reds taking a fortuitous lead on 16 minutes through new signing Negueba. Chasing a back pass through to the Jeju goalkeeper Kim Kyun-min, the Brazilian winger didn't know much about his goal. He got in between the Jeju defender Kim Hanjin and the goalkeeper and simply tried to block the away keeper's clearance, it bounced off the wingers leg and into the net - 1-0 up for the home side with the luck being firmly with Reds' for the opener.

The Brazilian winger giving the heart symbol to his family in attendance after putting the reds ahead on Saturday. (Image via Gyeongnam FC)
The game then went from bad to worse for the away side when defender Cho Young-hyung was sent for an early bath seven minutes before the interval for an elbow to the face for what just looked like a coming together for a header with Negueba on the half way line. Negueba was on the floor with blood pouring out of his head making the elbow gesture to the referee. The man in middle Kim Sung-ho was advised to check the screen and used VAR to view the incident again. After watching the clash again he duly sent the player off. Jeju had to regroup and dropped defensive midfielder Chung Woon into centre back to plug the hole left by Cho Young-hyun's dismissal. All looking rosy for the home side going into half time.

The second half was played out in a similar pattern to the first half with Jeju United for only having ten men having the ball for large portions of the half. But there were lots of nice and neat sideways passes but nothing in the final third to really hurt Gyeongnam. The home side were a goal to the good and were quite happy with the result staying that way. The Reds knew in Kunimoto and Negueba they had match winners in the side and at any moment a piece of brilliance from them could add to their slender lead. The aforementioned two players are already becoming crowd favourites and even started pulling out their tricks and flicks to the home fans' loud approval. Gyeongnam were getting on top of Jeju now coming into the last ten minutes where the extra man advantage was getting too much for the away side.  Heavy legs were clearly evident.

The Reds had been knocking on the door to add to their lead for a good while now, missing a few chances to go two goals ahead. But, that illusive second goal finally would come on 87 minutes from man of the match Kunimoto. The ball broke in the middle of the park to Negueba who looked up and pinged a glorious ball over to the right wing. The Japanese winger, still 40 yards from goal, ran at the retreating Jeju defender, and as he approached the edge of the away side's penalty area he curled a delicious effort with his left foot passed the dive of the keeper into the bottom right-hand side of the goal. A quite superb strike and one to grace the K League 1 indeed. Gyeongnam look like they have unearthed another gem in this Japanese midfielder.

A fantastic start to life in the top tier of Korean football for the home side but a tough trip to Jeonnam Dragons awaits them this weekend. Stark contrast to that of Jeju United who haven't won a game so far this season in the league and go up against a strong Ulsan Hyundai side next.  A regroup is needed by them as they do have class throughout their squad.  A minor blip I am sure, and they will get climbing the table as the season progresses. We are only two games into the season after all.

Referee: Kim Sung-ho
Assistants: Kim Sung-il, Bang Ki-yeol
Fourth official: Choi Dae-won
Attendance: 2,309

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