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Balotelli sinks Busan to extend Jeonnam's winning run


Three years after leaving the club, Jonathan Balotelli returned to Busan to seal a smash and grab 1-0 win and give Jeonnam Dragons their third win in a row. Busan IPark will rue dropped points after bossing much of the game, but a red card for midfielder Lee Rae-jun opened the door for the well-drilled and ruthless Dragons side to move level on points at the top of the table.

Result

Busan IPark 0-1 Jeonnam Dragons

Highlights


Red card costs Busan

Substitute Lee Rae-jun might feel hard by after seeing red for what at first seemed a fairly innocuous challenge. In truth the lanky midfielder was clumsy and late on Kim Hyeon-ug, however, and the tackle eventually proved the turning point in a game that Busan had largely dominated. 

Ricardo Peres decided not to plug the hole left by Lee, and that too proved costly as Busan were exposed time and again following the dismissal, Kim Jin-kyu left to marshal the midfield alone while An Byong-jun, Park Jeong-in, and Domagoj Drozdek remained on the field in attack. 


Peres might be forgiven for trying to sneak the win with ten men, as for much of the contest Busan looked the only side with the ambition for the three points. The gaping hole left by Lee led directly to the winning goal, however, with Brazilian substitute Alex roaming unchallenged through the middle to deliver a classy lob assist for the onrushing Balotelli. 

A double substitution on the hour mark will also come under scrutiny from the Portuguese manager, who chose to take off Kim Jeong-hyun and Lee Sang-heon, two of Busan’s best performers on the day. The decision to introduce Drozdek was justified, as the Croatian has impressed so far since his winter signing, but midfielder Lee Rae-jun has rarely looked the part in red, even before his sending off this evening. 

Quibbles with Peres’ second half decision making aside, it was a largely assured performance from the hosts. Busan might ultimately feel robbed of the points, but they will need to be more clinical in front of goal in future. Despite dominating possession for much of the game, Jeonnam keeper Park Jun-hyuk was only forced into one truly top save, palming away Drozdek’s fierce curling effort from range.

Balotelli returns to haunt Busan


Jonathan Balotelli had a spell with Busan IPark in 2018, but despite looking sharp in his rare appearances, he was quickly let go after failing to impress club staff off the field. 

There was no doubting his impact on the game on Saturday, however. Jeonnam looked a much greater threat after the Brazilian came on at half time, his pace and running providing an outlet that the Dragons sorely lacked in the first half. The goal was excellently taken, too, a precise finish after running onto Alex’s pass. 

In 2018 Busan only saw what Balotelli could do in flashes, but if Jeonnam can keep him focused and fit for the remainder of the season, they may yet have one the league’s top strikers on their hands.

Busan Player Ratings

GK – Choi Pil-su – 6 
RWB – Choi Jun – 6 
CB – Hwang Jun-ho – 6 (Eo Jeong-won 92’) 
CB – Park Ho-young – 6 
CB – Valentinos Sielis – 6 
LWB – Park Min-gyu – 6 
CM – Kim Jeong-hyun – 7 (Lee Rae-jun 62’ – 4) 
CM – Kim Jin-kyu – 7 
RW – Park Jeong-in – 6 
CF – An Byong-jun- 6 
LW – Lee Sang-heon – 7 (Domagoj Drozdek 62’ – 7)

Jeonnam Dragons Lineup:
Park Jun-hyuk, Oleg Zoteev, Park Chan-yong, Ko Tae-won, Chang Sung-rok (Jang Soon-hyeok 85'), Kim Seon-woo, Kim Hyeon-ug, Kim Tae-hyun, Park Hee-seong (Alex 68'), Suh Myeong-won (Balotelli 46'), Samuel Nnamani.
 

FNR

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