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2020 K League 1 Round 2 Recap


After an enticing opening round, K League 1 returned for the second week hoping to capitalise on its new-found attention. With key matches in Suwon and in Daegu, the stage was set for teams to keep the momentum going. Guest writer Daniel Oh recaps the second round of action.


Saturday, May 16th

Sangju Sangmu 2-0 Gangwon FC

The first matchup of the second round of the season was between Sangju Sangmu, who lost to Ulsan Hyundai by 0-4 in matchday one, and Gangwon FC, the winners over FC Seoul with three impressive goals last time out. Sangju started the match with a 4-1-4-1 formation, replacing last match’s starter Moon Seon-min with Kang Sang-woo on the left side of the field. Gangwon used a 4-3-3 formation, which was identical to their last match, without much change in the starting eleven. The military side concentrated on rougher plays with the narrow use of the field, while the Bears kept their style of passing-build-up plays. In the 19th minute, Lim Chai-min of Gangwon aggressively tackled Kang Sang-woo twice in the penalty area, and a penalty kick was given to Sangju. Kang Sang-woo took the penalty very calmly and scored to make it 1-0. Gangwon quickly picked up the pace and played more offensively with the great contribution of Cho Jae-wan in the attacking third. The most impressive chance was made in the 30th minute by the forwards Cho Jae-wan and Jung Seok-hwa. Cho dashed towards the left side of the penalty box, went past two defenders and passed the ball to Jung who was right in front of the goal, but Jung’s chest control was too hard and the ball went above the post.

In the 50th minute, Gangwon substituted in Kim Ji-hyeon for Jung Seok-hwa and this substitution provided more energy to the Bears. They made many good attacks until the 64th minute utilizing their brilliant team plays, including hitting the post in the 53rd minute. However, although the processes of the attacks were great, Gangwon kept failing in completing the opportunities with accurate shots. The team that knew how to make better use of the limited number of chances was Sangju. As soon as Gangwon’s attacks slowed down after the 65th minute, Sangju started pulling up their defensive lines and targeting the away team’s backline, and in the 74th minute, the Soldiers substituted in their superstar Moon Seon-min to finish off the match. Sangju made six shots in the last 20 minutes of the game, and in the 77th minute, Moon Seon-min scored a goal in a one-on-one chance against Gangwon’s goalkeeper, making the score 2-0. After the second goal, Gangwon lost concentration and could not produce chances, with the match ending in a Sangju win.



[Read: Sangju Sangmu vs Gangwon FC match recap]

Daegu FC 1-1 Pohang Steelers

The next matchup was Daegu FC, who drew with Incheon United last week, versus Pohang Steelers, the winners in the match against Busan IPark. Daegu started the match with a similar formation as  the last round, 3-4-3 with placing Kim Dae-won, Cesinha, and Edgar in the attacking third. Pohang went through some changes since the last match. In the match against Busan, Steelers used a 4-3-3 formation that focused on utilizing Manuel Palacios’s speed at the higher position in the offense. But for the match against Daegu, Pohang brought in q 4-2-3-1 formation and replaced Palacios with Shim Dong-woon, with the intention to have more of the direct passes and cross from the sides to the center instead of relying on the penetration of the wing forwards. In the first half, both teams clashed head to head by concentrating very much on offense. Daegu took eight shots in the first half, and Pohang made five. The more accurate team was, however, the Steelers. The away team kept attacking through the fullbacks and wingers’ direct passes from the sides into the center, and in the 42nd minute, Song Min-kyu of Pohang’s pass assisted Paločević’s goal, which gave them the lead.

Going into the second half, Daegu substituted in Dejan Damjanović, the league’s all-time second-highest scorer, for Lee Jin-hyun. Replacing a central midfielder with a center forward suggested the Sky Blues’ desperate desire for a goal. This decision quickly became effective. Dejan made three shots after the substitution, and as Pohang’s defenders now have another striker to defend against, more opportunities were given to other forwards of Daegu such as Edgar and Cesinha. In the 66th minute, Kim Dae-won’s cross assisted Edgar’s wonderful equalizing header, and the score became 1-1. Daegu dominated the final phase of the match. While Pohang failed to generate significant chances, the Sky Blues had more threatening shots such as Edgar hitting the post in the 83rd minute. However, both teams could not score an additional goal, and the match ended 1-1.



Busan IPark 1-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Busan IPark faced Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in their home stadium. Busan started the match with a 4-3-3 formation, the same as the last match, but a major difference was that Rômulo da Silva sat on the bench. Instead, IPark put in Kim Byung-oh, one of the most influential players in the last match. The defending champions began with a 4-1-4-1 formation without much change. The first half can be simply described as “domination” from Jeonbuk. While Busan made three shots, Jeonbuk produced ten including a goal by Hong Jeong-ho in the 15th minute. The plays were done in Busan’s half for pretty much the whole time, and no significant chances were generated by the team from Korea’s second-largest city. But Jeonbuk were not very sharp either as they missed several shots that the champions would have been expected to score.

The second half saw a number of changes. Going into the second half, Busan substituted in Rômulo in order to push the lines up and aim for goal, and this strategy was right on the mark. With Rômulo orchestrating the overall development of attacks, Busan’s players got back on track and played more efficiency, and the Green Warriors’ midfielders and defenders in panic kept giving too much space to IPark’s attackers. Jeonbuk’s continued mistakes resulted in giving a penalty kick to Busan, which Rômulo comfortably scored an equalizer from. Busan’s offense became even stronger after scoring with the fabulous contribution of Rômulo, Kim Byung-oh, and Lee Dong-jun. José Morais of Jeonbuk substituted in two center forwards, Lars Veldwijk and Lee Dong-guk, to make a difference in the attacking third. After this substitution, two teams exchanged several good chances, and in the 92nd minute, Veldwijk scored a dramatic winner with a header. Busan did not have much time left to score additional goals, and the match ended 1-2. Although Jeonbuk have won the last two matches, the performances were not on point for either of them. Solving this problem and securing safer victories seems to be this season’s assignment for Jeonbuk and José Morais.

[Read: Busan IPark 1-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors match recap]



Sunday, May 17th

Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-3 Ulsan Hyundai

This round’s fiercest match was played in Suwon, by Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Ulsan Hyundai. Following an unfortunate loss to Jeonbuk in the last round, Suwon put a little more concentration on offense as they placed two center forwards, Han Eui-kwon and Sulejman Krpić compared to the last match’s solo striker, Adam Taggart. Meanwhile, Ulsan, who had a 4-0 victory over Sangju Sangmu last time out, did not make many changes to the starting lineup. Despite the prediction that Ulsan will dominate, Suwon were able to catch the lead in the first half. After exchanging not very shart attacks for about 40 minutes, the Bluewings’ Ko Seung-Beom struck a wonder goal far outside the penalty box that even Jo Hyeon-woo, the man who silenced Germany national team forwards, could not save.

A minute after the second half began, Krpić scored a header that was assisted by Myung Joon-jae, and the match looking to be ending in a Suwon win. However, Ulsan, one of the strong contenders for the league title, did not give up easily. Júnior Negrão, who scored two goals for the Tigers in the last match against Sangju, made a top-class goal in the 53rd minute. Several minutes later, in the 60th minute, Kim In-sung of Ulsan caught Suwon’s defender Lee Jong-sung’s naive touch of the ball right in front of the goal, took away the ball and scored an equalizer. In just seven minutes, Ulsan put the game back level. For the next 30 minutes, both teams have had some significant opportunities but missed all of them. The closest to a goal was the shot that Taggart took right in front of the goalkeeper in the 75th minute, but the shot was not very accurate and Jo Hyeon-woo could easily save the shot. The final goal of the match was scored in the 88th minute, and the protagonists of this match were Ulsan. Júnior scored a goal from a free-kick that was taken very far from the penalty box, making it 2-3 for Ulsan. The match ended without any additional goals, and the most intense match of this round gave another victory to the Tigers.



FC Seoul 1-0 Gwangju FC

FC Seoul faced Gwangju FC for their first home match of the season. After losing to Gangwon FC in the last round, FC Seoul made some changes to the squad. One of the most notable changes would be switching Park Dong-jin, the scorer of the last match, with Adriano. This seemed to have two intentions, first would be expecting Adriano to use his shooting abilities to score goals and the second would be preparing for Park Dong-jin’s absence as Park was joining Sangju Sangmu after this match to complete his military service period. Gwangju had a switch in the forwards too, as the manager Park Jin-sub put in Kim Ju-gong instead of Marcos Ureña.

Seoul completely dominated the first half. While Seoul were taking nine shots, Gwangju could not take even a single shot. However, despite an enormous difference in the number of shots taken, Seoul failed to score any goal either, and the first half ended 0-0. After the first half, Seoul manager Choi Yong-soo made the decision to substitute in Park Dong-jin, who can provide post-plays and link-up plays with high stamina, for Adriano. Park Dong-jin’s pressure on Gwangju’s defenders gave more space to Seoul’s central midfielders, including Han Chan-hee and Han Seung-gyu, which resulted in Han Chan-hee’s goal in the 64th minute. After the goal, the Griffins quickly substituted in Lim Min-hyuk to provide high-quality passes and aim for more offensive plays, but Gwangju failed to create meaningful chances, and the match ended 1-0. Although Seoul have won over Gwangju, they still haven’t shown a strong team identity, and the accuracy of attacks also has been low. As Park Dong-jin, the only forward who has scored for Seoul so far in the league is going to Sangju now, the Soul of the capital city should come up with plans to effectively produce goals with existing strikers such as Park Chu-young, Adriano, Cho Young-wook, Yun Ju-tae, etc.

[Read: FC Seoul 1-0 Gwangju FC match recap]



Seongnam FC 0-0 Incheon United

Seongnam FC, who claimed victory over Gwangju FC 2-0 and gave Kim Nam-il his first win as a manager, met Incheon United, who drew with Daegu FC, at Seongnam’s home stadium. Seongnam started the match with the exact same formation and lineup, which was concentrating on having a concrete midfield and delivering the ball to Yang Dong-hyun, who scored two goals in the last match. A significant point to note regarding Incheon’s squad was that Rashid Mahazi, who man-marked Cesinha of Daegu in the last match and showed great defensive abilities, was not in the squad, and Lee Woo-hyeok took his place. Watching the new combination of Incheon’s midfield defending against Yang Dong-hyun was one of the points to look out for.

As both teams placed a huge focus on defense, the match progressed in a relatively slower and quieter atmosphere. While both teams did not have many great chances due to tough defending, Yang Dong-hyun of Seongnam and Stefan Mugoša of Incheon kept creating chances and taking shots. The closest opportunity that Yang had was Yeon Je-woon’s unexpected cross in the 38th minute that fooled every defender of Incheon, but Yang could not get an adequate touch and missed an important chance. Mugoša could have scored in the 43rd minute when he took a shot right outside the penalty box after a fast-paced counter-attack, but the ball went too high and past the post. In the second half, the Magpies had more chances than United, as Seongnam had five shots taken while Incheon only had two, but since both teams played the match very cautiously, the difference in shots taken was not very meaningful. Both teams had chances to win it, such as Kang Yun-koo’s header that hit the post in the 67th minute, and Lee Tae-hee’s one-on-one chance in the 85th minute, but in the end the result was goalless.

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