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Korean Football Round-up 29th Sept.

From Son Heung-min and Hwang In-beom's exploits in the English and Russian Premier Leagues, a hat-trick of hat-tricks in K League 1 and a first Super Match win for Suwon in over five years, a comprehensive round-up of the latest news in Korean football from Paul Neat.

A hat-trick of hat-tricks 

With 25 goals scored, K League 1 Round 23 proved to be one of the highest-scoring this season. Over the course of the weekend three players went home with the match ball: Suwon Bluewings' Adam Taggart, Incheon United's Stefan Mugoša, and Pohang Steelers' Stanislav Iljutcenko. 

On account of the three hat-tricks, not to mention Pohang's 5-3 win over Gwangju, over the weekend there were 25 goals scored in K League 1. However, although goals were plentiful, it wasn't the highest scoring round of the season as in Round 18 there were 27, helped by Gwangju who, much like in Round 23, were involved in the weekend's highest scoring match - a 6-4 win over Daegu, and in Round 10 there were 28 goals scored due to three matches having six goals each.

Finding the Taggart

Adam Taggart's hat-trick helped Suwon onto their first K League Super Match win in over five years. Bluewings overcame their rivals FC Seoul in a 3-1 victory to move up to eighth and with a bit of breathing space above the drop zone. It appeared as though Taggart wasn't going to be credited with all three as his second was initially given as a Ko Kwang-min own goal. However, the Socceroo was awarded the goal is now on eight for the season following his second K League hat-trick.


Stefan Mugoalša

Five for sixpence, six for gold - it proved to be a goal-den afternoon for Incheon United against the Magpies. The greatest of great escapes is very much on as Incheon United thumped Seongnam 6-0 to move off the bottom of the table for the first time since Round 4. Mugoša bagged a hat-trick, his second in K League, to help move the Blue Back up to 11th on goal difference, the second tie breaker behind goals scored. Throughout the afternoon, Mugoša scored three from four shots on target, laid on an assist, and won 70% of his duels. 



Not only was it Incheon's 200th victory, but it was also their record win. Ironically, the club's record defeat was a 6-0 loss to Seongnam back in 2013. But, the bad news for Incheon fans is that Mugoša looks to have played his last game for the club this year. The 28-yer-old has been called up to the Montenegro squad ahead of the UEFA Nations League fixtures with Azerbaijan at home on Saturday 10th October and Luxembourg away four days later. Due to quarantine rules, Mugoša will therefore be forced to miss Incheon’s four remaining K League 1 Final Round B fixtures and so will be unable to add to his 11 goals in 2020. Incheon United have asked the Football Association of Montenegro to not call up their star striker, according to Yonhap.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors shift up a gear



Jose Morais' Jeonbuk closed the gap at the top of the K League 1 table and are now level on points with league leaders Ulsan Hyundai. In fact, all that is separating the two giants of K League now is just goals scored. That is because, while Jeonbuk were earning a narrow win away to Sangju Sangmu, Lee Seung-gi bagging the game's only goal. 

Sangju gaffer Kim Tae-wan left Moon Seon-min and Kwon Kyung-won out of the army side's K League 1 Final A fixture with Jeonbuk because he didn't want to burden them. Speaking to the media after the 1-0 defeat, Coach Kim said:

"Even though I know they would have done well, because it was against Jeonbuk [parent club] then I thought they might have felt burdened. If it was earlier in the season then perhaps, but because Jeonbuk are going for the title I didn't want to place any burden on them and so they were omitted from the squad."

Elsewhere in North Jeolla Province, Daegu FC held the Horangi to a 2-2 draw. Park Han-bin bagged his first goal as a professional, levelling for the Sky Blues in the dying embers.

Cho ducks out

Another week and another managerial casualty in K League as Cho Duk-je has stepped down as manager of Busan IPark. The 2-0 loss to Gangwon at the weekend was Busan's third on the spin and extended the south coast side's run of just one win in 13 outings. Busan sit bottom of the table. Lee Ki-hyung will take over as caretaker for the last four matches of the season.

Seoul destroying



It was reported in the media last week that Kim Ho-young stepped down as caretaker  because the club didn't want to make a decision on a new permanent manager. It is said that Coach Kim had a meeting with the Sangam hierarchy and the subject of being appointed as full time manager was brought up. The former Gangwon boss is said to have pressed Seoul for a decision but the club were in no rush and affirmed that more time was needed. As a result, Kim Ho-young said he would then resign. FC Seoul have now had Choi Yong-soo, Kim Ho-young and Park Hyun-soon who took charge of the Super Match defeat last Saturday.

The Weekend Preview (2nd Oct.)

You can now catch our weekly news round-up as well as previews for the weekend ahead in our 15 minute Weekend Preview episodes of The K League United Podcast.


Ain't no Son-shine when he's gone

Son Heung-min picked up a hamstring injury during Tottenham's 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle United on Sunday. The South Korean national team captain had a busy first half, hitting the post and crossbar before being taken off injured at half time. Spurs held a narrow 1-0 lead thanks to Lucas Moura's close range effort on 25 minutes but English international Callum Wilson earned Newcastle a draw deep into time added on.

It has been an eventful week or so for Tottenham Hotspur and Son Heung-min. After sealing the Europa League qualifying win over Shkëndij, Spurs booked their place in the next round of the League Cup - but without actually playing. Tottenham were due to face Leyton Orient but due to an outbreak of COVID-19 within the Orient squad, the League Two were forced to forfeit and Tottenham were given a bye into the next round. 

In-beom's explosive start

Korean international midfielder Hwang In-beom has made an explosive start to life in the Russian Premier League. Not only does he rank among the best in terms of key passes made per 90 minutes, but the 'Son of Daejeon' has contributed to Rubin Kazan's recent form. Hwang's now has two assists to his name in the Russian Premier League, adding a stunning second in Kazan's 3-1 away win over Rota Volgograd on Sunday 27th September.


Shanghai Derby

Led by former Jeonbuk boss Choi Kang-hee, Shanghai Shenhua will take on crosstown rivals Shanghai SIPG in the first round of the Chinese Super League Championship playoffs in the Suzhou bubble. Choi will come up against his former player Ricardo Lopes after the Brazilian made the switch to the CSL from K League last winter.

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