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Recap: Suwon Samsung Bluewings 1-0 Incheon United

Recap: Suwon Samsung Bluewings vs Incheon United

Suwon Samsung Bluewings kick-started their 2020 K League 1 campaign with a tepid 1-0 win over strugglers Incheon United at The Big Bird on Saturday. Here’s a recap of what unfolded on the pitch between the sides. Suwon Bluewings columnist Nived Zenith recaps the match

What Happened?

Lee Lim-saeng’s men put an end to their four-match losing streak in all competitions this year, courtesy of the narrow win over Incheon in Suwon. The Bluewings, who let a two-goal advantage slip during their defeat to Ulsan Hyundai last time around, were far from destructive in what played out as a lacklustre affair at the Big Bird stadium.

The hosts made three changes to the team that succumbed to a defeat against Ulsan, as all of Adam Taggart, Min Sang-gi and Park Sang-hyuk replaced Han Eui-gwon, Park Dae-won and Hong Chul, respectively, in the starting eleven.

Despite their previous disappointments, Suwon started the game on the front foot and threatened as early as the seventh minute, when Sulejman Krpic forced a save from Jeong San. The Bosnian was played through on goal by Myung Jun-jae, but the onrushing Incheon shot-stopper made a block to deny him a clear-cut opening.

Krpic, who scored his first goal for the club in the loss against Ulsan, tested his counterpart in the Incheon goal with another attempt in the 15th minute, when his tame header was directed straight at Jeong San. Suwon were slowly growing in confidence, as Incheon struggled to make an impact during the opening exchanges of the first half.

The visitors, who have yet to score in the K League this term, were handed a huge blow in the form of an injury, when Nigerian striker Lanre Kehinde was stretchered off to be replaced by Kim Ho-nam in the 20th minute. Suwon built on their upper-hand in the opening minutes and continued to enjoy the odd chance leading up to the half-time interval.

Adam Taggart came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 31st minute, when his shot struck the far post and stayed out, following a neat pass from Krpic. Incheon enjoyed their first sight of goal through Stefan Mugosa in the 45th minute.

The Montenegrin striker was found inside the penalty area by a cross from Kim Do-hyuk, but his header proved weak and was comfortably caught by No Dong-geon, just ahead of the interval. Mugosa, who scored 14 goals in 22 games last term for Incheon, enjoyed another opening in the 57th minute, following a searching pass from Kim Joon-beom.

The 28-year-old controlled the ball and turned inside Doneil Henry, but his left-footed attempt was weakly-struck and rolled into the hands of his adversary in goal for the hosts. The decisive moment of the game came near the hour mark, following one of Suwon’s attacking forays into the Incheon penalty box.

Park Sang-hyuk released Yeom Ki-hun on the right flank and the midfielder unleashed a low cross towards Kim Min-woo, who was pulled down by Incheon defender Moon Ji-hwan. The defender pleaded his innocence, but the referee made no hesitation in pointing to the spot straight away.

Yeom Ki-hun sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and calmly finished the penalty to give Suwon the advantage from the resulting spot-kick. The Bluewings breathed a collective sigh of relief, but were forced to endure a nervy moment just minutes later.

Incheon responded almost instantly and an inviting cross from Kang Yun-koo fell kindly for Mugosa inside the Suwon penalty area. The marksman unleashed a powerful shot, but a vital block and the subsequent clearance from second-half substitute Lim Sang-hyub averted danger for the hosts.
Lim was involved at the other end in the 71st minute, when he made a driving run through the left flank, before cutting inside and dispatching a shot on goal. However, the attempt was hit straight at the visiting goalkeeper.

Incheon produced a couple of poor attempts on goal in the dying stages of the game, as a rather substandard K League affair petered out. Irrespective of the glamour attached to their win over Incheon, the Bluewings will be delighted with their first win of the season.

What Went Well?

While the Bluewings were far from their destructive best, they still managed to come away with the three important points against Incheon. Despite the lack of flair attached to their display, Lee Lim-saeng will be happy to have grinded out the result in the end.

The Bluewings manager has been under pressure since the beginning of the year and another defeat could have potentially put his job on the line. However, the resolve displayed by Suwon to snatch a narrow win, from an otherwise dull game, proved they still possess the ability to get wins under their belts even on the worst of days.

Lee will also be delighted with the combination of Sulejman Krpic and Adam Taggart in the opening stages of the game, where both strikers showed glimpses of their keen eye-for-goal. With the return of Terry Antonis from suspension, the Bluewings could become a better-rounded outfit, should they settle in as a unit and work in tandem to reach their full potential.

On the other hand, nothing went well for Incheon during their outing at the Big Bird, as they struggled to leave any positives out on the pitch. Perhaps the fact they only conceded once, despite playing so poorly could be counted, but it wasn’t like the Bluewings hit their top gear either.

What Didn’t Go Well?

Lim Wan-seop has every right to be concerned about his side’s exploits in front of goal so far this season. Incheon were held to goalless draws against Daegu FC and Seongnam FC in their opening games and showed no signs of breaking the duck anytime soon during their latest outing in Suwon.

To make matters worse, Lanre Kehinde picked up an early injury and was stretchered off the pitch. Incheon’s attacking 3-4-3 relied on Kehinde, as much as on Stefan Mugosa and Kim Joon-beom, but it lasted for only about 20 minutes, owing to the Nigerian’s injury.

The unavoidable and silly pull by Moon Ji-hwan that resulted in the decisive penalty also proved to be a detrimental factor in their downfall, as Incheon paid the price for a lacklustre display marred by a spiteful lapse in concentration.

What Do They Need To Do Now?

Even though the Bluewings have managed to put an end to their losing streak, they must improve tremendously in the coming weeks. Lee Lim-saeng could only guide his team to a ninth-placed finish last season, but winning the FA Cup proved to be a lifeline.

However, it is safe to assume he could be under pressure yet again, should they go off the rails in the race for a top half finish this term. The Bluewings have yet to completely settle as a unit and must now focus on building on their first win and clean sheet of the 2020 K League campaign.

Terry Antonis will be a welcome addition to the side, when he returns from suspension, and with Doneil Henry already establishing himself, Lee just needs to find his right combination and get the team working cohesively as a well-disciplined outfit.

Unlike the Bluewings, Incheon are still in the search for their first win and need a huge turnaround in form to avoid relegation at the end of the season. The Mariners survived the drop by just a single point at the end of the last campaign and have yet to score in the K League this term.

Stefan Mugosa, who single-handedly helped them stay up last season, has not carried his form into the new season so far and the marksman should break his duck sooner rather than later to set Incheon’s wheels in motion.

Who’s Up Next?

Suwon Bluewings return to action in the K League on Saturday 30th May, when they face newly-promoted Busan IPark away from home. Incheon face another tough challenge on Sunday 31st May against Pohang Steelers at their own turf. 

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