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Recap: FC Seoul 2-2 Ulsan Hyundai

A late, late Kim Bokyung equaliser for Ulsan Hyundai prevented FC Seoul from moving two points clear at the top of the K League 1 table. With Jeonbuk drawing away to Pohang, a win for either side would have been enough to move to the K League 1 summit. Alas, after an eventful 2-2 draw, the three-horse race for the title remains as it was heading into round 18.

During an enthralling first half, FC Seoul came from behind to lead at the break - a stunning Ikromjon Alibaev strike after 41 minutes cancelling out Kim Taehwan's ninth minute opener, before Park Dongjin headed Seoul into a 44th minute lead from a Park Chuyoung cross. However, Kim Bokyong headed home in the dying embers to see the spoils shared at Sangam.

Despite a return to fitness for K League 1 leading scorer Aleksandar Pešić, FC Seoul manager Choi Yongsoo stuck with the same starting eleven which edged past Daegu FC in round 17, Park Dongjin partnering Park Chuyoung in attack.

For the visitors, meanwhile, Horangi gaffer Kim Dohoon wielded the axe, making a handful of changes to the side which crashed out of the AFC Champions League in midweek. Joo Minkyu was preferred to Junior up top, Kim Bokyung returned to the starting lineup, as did Lee Myoungjae at full back with former FC Seoul midfielder Shin Jinho back from injury to make his first appearance at Sangam since departing during the winter.

First Half

The match began at a frantic pace with Ulsan looking to stretch Seoul, Hwang Ilsoo in particular seemingly hell bent on making up for his spell out of the team with some determined wing play.

It wasn't long before the visitors took the lead as, on the opposite flank, and with just nine minutes on the clock, former FC Seoul full back Kim Taehwan found the back of the net via a deflection from the edge of the box after an initial shot from young winger Lee Dongkyung had cannoned off the post.

However, FC Seoul, undeterred from the early set back, began to get more of a foothold in the game. On 17 minutes and after some slick, one-touch passing between Osmar, Jung Hyeoncheol, Alibaev and Go Yohan in particular, Seoul tried to fashion themselves an opportunity but the Horangi were able to stand firm and snuff out the danger.

Moments later, however, and Ulsan had another glorious chance; Hwang Ilsu hitting the bar from just inside the area after creating space for himself in the channel between Kim Wonsik and Hwang Hyunsoo. Seoul relieved to see the ball bounce back off the woodwork.

Ulsan were soon back and this time through former Jeonbuk Hyundai attacking midfielder Kim Bokyung. Kim, who was donning the captain’s armband for Kim Dohoon’s side, won Ulsan a free kick on the left-hand side just over 25 yards out. Shin Jinho stepped up to take before sending a teasing cross to the far post which, to the relief of FC Seoul, bounced out for a goal kick.

A golden opportunity spurned by Ulsan 26 minutes in, Hwang Ilsu found himself unmarked six yards out but the Horangi number eight scuffed the shot and FC Seoul lived to fight another day.

On the counter attack, FC Seoul thought they should have had themselves a penalty for handball. Park Dongjin and Park Chuyoung broke free on the counter attack, the former playing the ball into the latter whose shot appeared to hit the arm of an Ulsan defender. Referee wasn’t interested however and play continued.

The move, however, was typical of how the first half was panning out - FC Seoul only really able to carve out opportunities on the break and were somewhat lacking in quality in the final third.

After another penalty appeal turned down, Seoul began to exert more pressure on Ulsan who were struggling to find the same rhythm which they had in the opening 30 minutes. A long ranger from Kim Bokyung which went well wide was about all which the visitors could muster.

FC Seoul themselves hit the bar four minutes before the interval, Jung Hyeoncheol getting his head onto a Park Chuyoung corner but, much like it was for FC Seoul earlier, woodwork to the rescue.

Just a few minutes later and Park Chuyoung had an excellent chance to test the goalkeeper but the veteran striker took too many touches and the chance was gone, and so too was the chance of an equaliser - or so they thought.

However, just a few minutes later and Seoul were able to restore parity. With 41 minutes on the clock, wing-back Yoon Jonggyu with a cross from deep into Alibaev who, on the turn, left-footed found the top corner with a well-taken curler. Another excellent strike from from the Uzbek international and his second in as many games had Seoul back on level terms heading into the break.

But now, the hosts had turned the game on its head, Park Dongjin nodding Seoul in front on the edge of the six-yard box from Park Chuyoung’s curling cross from the right-hand side. Alibaev instrumental again, the 24 year-old attacking midfielder spread the play out wide to Park Chuyoung who, after steadying himself, sent in an excellent cross from the touchline in towards the edge of the six-yard box. Park's strike partner, Park Dongjin, showed striker instincts to nod the ball past Oh Seunghoon in the Ulsan goal.

Ulsan had been the better team for large spells of the first half but two quick fire goals had FC Seoul in front at half time.

Second Half

First caution of the evening was to Mix Diskerud, the former USA international midfielder pulled down Park Chuyoung as Seoul looked to hit Ulsan on the counter attack. Mix took a knock and so was subbed off and replaced by former FC Seoul midfielder Park Yongwoo.

In the first 15 minutes of the second period, neither side really broke a sweat. The hosts dealt with any Ulsan threat with Osmar in particular meeting everything in the air.

Partial to a venture forward, Osmar found himself in the left-wing position before sending in a teasing cross for Alibaev but the header was just over the cross bar. It was Seoul’s first real, meaningful sight on goal in the second half just after the hour mark.

Ulsan then had another huge, huge chance to level when Hwang Ilsu found himself one on one with the goalkeeper but Yoo Sanghoon once again made himself big before getting a foot on the winger’s shot, Kim Wonsik shepherded the ball out to safety.

Meanwhile, Ulsan were getting ready to make a second substitution, Junior Negao coming on for Lee Dongkyeong.

In the 62nd minute, Junior had a look on goal more or less as soon as he came on in a spell where the visitors had a prolonged spell of pressure. After Park Yongwoo's strike from just outside the box had hit the post, Junior thought he had found the leveller with the rebound but the linesman had his flag up for offside.

Pesic made his return from injury after missing the win over Daegu last time out, coming on for the scorer of Seoul’s second goal Park Dongjin in the 69th minute.

In the 70th minute Ulsan once again thought they had found an equaliser, Hwang Ilsu’s hard work paid dividends and was rewarded with a long ranger but Junior, who was positioned close to the Seoul goalkeeper, was deemed to be have been stood in an offside position when the ball was struck and so, after a VAR review, the goal was disallowed. Seoul happy with the reprieve but you got the impression that an equaliser was coming.

VAR had another say in proceedings, this time with the referee checking to see if FC Seoul centre back Kim Wonsik was guilty of handball in the box on 78 minutes. After consulting VAR it was deemed that the ball striking Kim's arm was not worthy of a penalty despite referee Jung Dongsik chalking off Kim Shinwook's goal versus Suwon Bluewings just last week for a similar offence.

It was a bit desperate in the end for FC Seoul, the host clinging onto their sender lead with the Horangi continuing to exert pressure on the hosts. Junior had another excellent chance to level just seven minutes from time but, once again, Yoo Sanghoon, made himself big and was able to steer Junior wide before the ball ricoheted back off the Brazilian and out for a goal kick.

Six minutes of time were added on, and a tense six minute they were.

Pesic’s best chance since coming off the bench came in stoppage time, Go Yohan played the Serbian in but Ulsan goalkeeper Oh Seunghoon was equal to it and parried the ball out for a corner with his left foot.

There was still another goal in this game but it was Ulsan who found it as, in the 97th minute, Kim Bokyung found a leveller for Ulsan, heading in from inside the box after getting on the end nod back across goal by centre back Dave Bulthuis following Kim Taehwan's left-footed cross. Before Seoul could restart, the referee blew for full time and the spoils were shared.

Title Race

The draw, along with another stalemate at the Steelyard between league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Pohang Steelers, meant that the top three remains exactly as it was heading into the weekend with Jeonbuk and Seoul equal on points, Ulsan one point behind with a game in hand. Failure to capitalise on Jeonbuk dropping points may be seen as a missed opportunity for both teams, but Sunday's game at Sangam merely points at how close this title race is. Ulsan were probably the better side, Seoul were certainly lucky to get a point but Choi Yongsoo's men scored at a very important time with two goals before half time - something

via Soccerway
The beauty of this title race is that no team is perfect; Jeonbuk under Morais and with just two recognised strikers, aren't the same side that they were under Choi Kanghee, FC Seoul are vastly improved from last year but the team's inability to keep a cleansheet will remain a concern though for Coach Choi, whilst Kim Dohoon's reluctance to take the reins of his Ulsan side will continue to hold the Horangi back. With 18 matches played, there is not a lot in this title race. Whilst Jeonbuk being at the K League 1 summit is of little surprise, for FC Seoul and Ulsan, it has been three and six years respectively since they were really gunning for a title. Given that the gap between the top three and Daegu in fourth is eight points, it stands to reason that the title will be won by one of the current top three. But, the true test for Choi Yongsoo and Kim Dohoon is whether their respective teams are still hot on the heels of Morais' men as the season heads into the split.

Highlights: here


Substitutes: 21 Yang Hanbin, 3 Lee Woonghee, 8 Jung Wonjin, 14 Kim Hangil (Ko Kwangmin 90+4'), 18  Cho Youngwook (Alibaev 87'), 19 Yun Jutae, 72 Pešić (Park Dongjin 70')

Substitutes: 31 Moon Jungin, 4 Kang Minsu, 7 Kim Insung, 9 Junior (Lee Dongkyung 53'), 17 Kim Sungjun (Shin Jinho 84'), 19 Park Yongwoo (Diskerud 53'), 33 Park Jooho

Attendance: 17,814

Referee: Jung Dongsik
Assistants: Yoon Kwangyeol, Bang Kiyeol
Fourth Official: Shin Youngjun

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