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Recap: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2-1 FC Seoul

Kim Min-jae celebrates scoring the opening goal for Jeonbuk in their K League 1 clash against FC Seoul

With both teams coming into this match on the back of losses, the first 2018 encounter of K League 1 rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and FC Seoul ended in eventual victory for the home side, with Jeonbuk striker Adriano grabbing the headlines with a goal against his former club to claim the three points.
(Photo via Hyundai-MotorsFC.com)

As discontent continues to swell amongst the FC Seoul fans towards their club's manager Hwang Sun-hong, former Seoul striker Adriano could not resist the narrative dangling in front of him as his second half cameo saw him score against his former club and the manager who sold him in what would prove to be the eventual difference between the two sides in Jeonju.

The strike was the Brazilians second league goal of the campaign for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and his sixth across all competitions, providing a reminder to his former manager of why it was a mistake to let him leave over a year ago.

Adriano's impactful appearance from the bench rightly drew plaudits, but the home side had already taken the lead moments before his services were called upon. Promising youngster Kim Min-jae continued his development into a dependable Korean national team centre-back with a deserved man of the match display, capping it off with the opening goal for Jeonbuk shortly into the second half. A Lee Jae-sung corner picked out the 20 year old Kim, who had found himself unmarked in the FC Seoul penalty area having left his experienced counter part Kwak Tae-hwi flummoxed.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors entered this match on the back of two straight defeats across the league and AFC Champions League, with deserved losses to both Incheon United and Tianjin Quanjin in addition to plenty of questions raised about Jeonbuk's defensive frailties. Whilst both defeats had featured different back lines and goalkeepers, making sweeping criticisms of individuals seem ill-informed, there did seem a case to be made in regards to Choi Kang-hee's recently employed tactics.

Jeonbuk had approached both of those matches with an impetus on attacking, particularly against Incheon where not only the full backs, but the centre backs as well, were carelessly drawn forward and ultimately caught out of possession.

Against FC Seoul, the Jeonbuk manager reverted to type, switching to a 4-1-4-1 after eight days of experimentation. Notable inclusions however saw captain Shin Hyung-min removed from the squad and replaced in defensive midfield by youngster Jang Yun-ho, a player who has shown potential in the past and featured regularly in the role during the 2016 season across all competitions before Shin returned from military service and replaced him for the following campaign.

Last year's K League top assist maker Son Jun-ho was also afforded a start in central midfield after a string of matches on the bench, playing in the role alongside Jeonbuk's best provider, Lee Jae-sung.

FC Seoul, on the other hand, made what would be fair to call questionable changes to their line up, removing attackers Evandro and Park Chu-young from the squad altogether and replacing them with Anderson and Park Hee-song at the top of a rarely used 4-4-2 formation. Kwak Tae-hwi also started in defence with manager Hwang likely seeing him as the perfect foil to counter the threat poised by Jeonbuk's Kim Shin-wook.

Though they were considered the underdogs going into the clash, FC Seoul perhaps started the brightest of the two teams on show, with Lee Sang-ho making his presence know within the first ten minutes with a vicious shot from the edge of the area, well met by Jeonbuk goalkeeper Song Beom-keun who did not see it until late due the number of bodies in his line of sight.

Lee Sang-ho gets his shot away early into proceedings (Photo taken by Jon Christian)

However, as the half progressed, Jeonbuk finally began to turn the screw and were it not for some resolute Seoul defending, in addition to strong goalkeeping by Yang Han-bin, they would have taken the lead before the end of the first half.

The hosts best opportunity came via Ricardo Lopes in the 36th minute. The right winger passed the ball inside to Lee Seung-gi who was being held up on the edge of the penalty area. Lopes cut inside and switched to the left, with Lee playing a deft backheel right into his path. Lopes found himself through on goal and was denied by a Yang Han-bin great save.

Although not the most entertaining of halves, Jeonbuk perhaps ended it with more positive momentum, which they carried through into the second forty five minutes.

It only took four minutes after the restart before Lee Jae-sung's corner was headed in by Kim Min-jae to give the hosts the lead, leaving what looked like an increasingly toothless FC Seoul a mountain to climb.

Shortly after taking the advantage, Jeonbuk manager Choi Kang-hee opted to switch personnel, replacing Jang Yun-ho with former FC Seoul man Adriano and switching to an attacking 4-4-2, perhaps in the hope that they could now further expose a FC Seoul side who would be required to come forward if they wanted to leave Jeonju with anything to show for their troubles.

Instead though, the opportunities began to mount for the North Jeolla outfit. A deft touch by Kim Shin-wook played Adriano through first to be denied by goalkeeper Yang, but moments later, when a scramble had ensued inside the FC Seoul penalty box, the Brazilian striker made no mistake when the uncleared loose ball was poked by Lee Seung-gi towards him to convert from a few yards out.

Kim Shin-wook, Adriano and Lee Seung-gi all had ample opportunities to find the third for Jeonbuk, but it would be FC Seoul who would find the back of the net with a mere consolation goal during stoppage time.

After Lee Seok-hyun was brought down outside of the Jeonbuk penalty area, Kim Seong-jun took the resulting free kick which wrong footed the goalkeeper and found its way left of the wall just inside the post, scoring from the tightest of angles.

Unfortunately for the capital club, it was too little, too late. Boos that had been audible at their home game a week prior resurfaced, aimed at the majority of the squad once more.

These are unwelcome times at FC Seoul at the moment. Our site's resident FC Seoul columnist Paul Neat cared to share his view of the match below:

Already under pressure from the FC Seoul supporters, manager Hwang Sun-hong had already left those who had made the trip to Jeonju scratching their heads once the team sheet was read out. Park Hee-seong up front along side Anderson Lopes was the most surprising of the four changes from the side that had lost to Gangwon. The logic perhaps being to get the ball into the tall striker for the powerful and hard-to-handle Anderson to feed off which Seoul did try to do in the first half in particular. But Park Hee-seong lacked composure and, frankly, at this level looks somewhat out of his depth. Kwak Tae-hwi came into the side and was supposed to there to combat Kim Shin-wook but was bullied at set pieces and out of position for at key times in the game.

However, in the first half, Seoul weren't that bad and, although they hadn't had the majority of the possession, they were trying to get the ball into Anderson who had several speculative efforts on goal. Seoul looked proactive and at least had some sort of game plan in trying to get Anderson onto second balls. Going in at the break at 0-0 Hwang Sun-hong would have been content and, had the former Pohang gaffer been proactive like his opposite number Choi Kang-hee was in the second period, Seoul may have been able to get some sort of result. 

Jeonbuk's first goal, a header from Kim Min-jae from a Lee Jae-sung corner, was an example of how not to execute the zonal marking system. Kwak Tae-hwi couldn't get anywhere near his successor in the Korean National Team, his body shape with arms and legs flailing as he attempted to challenge for the ball was testament to that. With the goal coming after 53 minutes there was still plenty of time for FC Seoul to get back into the game. On the bench Hwang had Ivan Kovacec, Yoon Seung-won and Cho Young-wook to choose from but dithered and waited far too long to make any tactical adjustments. Choi Kang-hee didn't dither however and was proactive and tactically astute enough to notice that because FC Seoul couldn't deal with Kim Shin-wook, Adriano in the way that he plays off the shoulder and finds little pockets of space in the box, could play off Jeonbuk's number nine. Adriano came on for midfielder Jang Yun-ho and within 10 minutes of doing so, the former FC Seoul marksman had found the back of the net. 

Hwang Sun-hong waited until the 82nd minute to finally make some changes, introducing wingers Yoon Seung-won and Cho-Young-wook who replaced striker Park Hee-seong and defensive midfielder Jung Hyeon-cheol respectively. But it was too little too late and, and in the end it was only down to a superb free kick from Kim Seong-jun that allowed Seoul to halve the deficit. The players on the pitch won the game for Jeonbuk but the manager lost it for FC Seoul. 
Paul Neat

Jeonbuk on the other hand seemed delighted to not only revel in victory over their league rivals, but stopped two poor defeats becoming a streak. It was not a vintage performance from the home side, but perhaps one that was very much needed after recent games. The Jeonbuk defence, particularly Kim Min-jae and inch-perfect his last-ditch tackles, were welcomed by the home suppor after a week in which the club's defence has been brought into question.

Whilst nine Jeonbuk players will feature for the Korean National Team and U23 iteration over this international break (including five defenders for the senior squad), the North Jeolla side will certainly be hoping that those not picked can regroup over the fortnight and prepare themselves for the visit from Sangju Sangmu at the end of the month.

Post Match Thoughts

Jeonbuk columnist Matthew Binns caught up with Los Cruzados Verdes (Jeonbuk Foreign Supporters Group) member Jon Christian to discuss their thoughts on the match. You can watch the video below:

You can watch full highlights from the match via SPOTV through their YouTube channel by clicking here.

Match Shots

K League United supporter, avid Jeonbuk fan and the man currently operating the K League United Elimination Game, Jon Christian, took a number of photos from the match, some of which can be viewed on our Instagram below.

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