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Drožđek shines as Busan IPark are held by Ansan Greeners

Busan IPark came from behind to draw 1-1 with Ansan Greeners on Saturday afternoon. While some Royals players shone, it was an uneven showing from the home team, and Ricardo Peres’ approach to matches will once again come under scrutiny. Tomas Marcantonio takes a closer look at Busan’s performance.  


Busan IPark 1-1 Ansan Greeners

Key Moments

Disallowed goal – 9’ – Kim Jin-kyu loses possession in a dangerous area and Ansan work the ball out to Min Jun-yeong, whose inswinging cross is converted by Kim Ryun-do. A very close call, but Kim is adjudged to have been offside. 

ANSAN GOAL – 42’ – Lee Jun-hee drives a diagonal ball in from the right and Kim Ryun-do chests the ball down on the edge of the area. Choi Geon-joo meets it with a stunning rising half volley that arrows into the top corner. 

Save – 56’ – Kim Jin-kyu is dispossessed outside his own area and Choi Geon-joo runs through on goal, only to be denied by a sprawling Choi Pil-su. 

BUSAN GOAL – 66’ – Domagoj Drožđek jinks to the byline and dinks in a cross. An Byong-jun flicks on a header and Jung Hoon-sung fires the ball in. The goal survives another very tight offside call. 

Miss – 93’ – Busan left back Park Min-kyu runs into the box and pulls the ball back for an unmarked An Byong-jun, only for the striker to side-foot his effort wide.


Busan IPark - Slow Starters

Busan IPark have only scored in the first half of one game this season (versus Daejeon Hana Citizen). In the other five matches (including the FA Cup game against Jeonju FC), they drew blanks in the first half, and have frequently looked sluggish and devoid of ideas before the break. 

The passivity of Busan’s first half performances of 2021 was once again on show on Saturday, as they were second fiddle to an in-form Ansan team. Busan failed to test Greeners keeper Lee Seung-bin in the opening 45 minutes, and especially struggled to involve influential youngster Park Jeong-in. 

Busan’s fluidity wasn’t helped by enforced changes at the back. With first choice defenders Valentinos Sielis and Kang Min-soo missing, reserve centre backs Kim Seung-woo and Hwang Jun-ho put in commendable shifts defensively, but their lack of composure on the ball made it difficult for Busan to play the ball out from the back. The Royals were frequently hemmed in by Ansan’s attacking press, giving midfielders Kim Jin-kyu and Kim Jeong-hyun little opportunity to get on the ball and influence the game. Full backs Lee Sang-jun and Park Min-kyu, meanwhile, were mostly restricted to defensive duties in the first half and were only given license to roam after the restart.

A Performance of Two Halves

Busan looked almost a different team in the second half, showing greater energy and a more aggressive press, while also committing more players forward. Having come from behind to win against Gimcheon Sangmu with a similarly two-faced performance, it begs the question why Peres doesn’t set his team out with such intent from the start of games. 

The image below shows a typical Busan attack in the first half. 

When right winger Lee Tae-min receives the ball out wide, neither Park Jeong-in nor An Byong-jun move into the empty ‘creative space’ between Ansan’s midfield and defence. Instead, both amble into the box awaiting a cross. With right back Lee Sang-jun (out of shot) inside his own half, 17 year-old Lee Tae-min has no option but to take on the Ansan left back. Eventually Lee is dispossessed and Ansan can build up again from the back. 

Compare that with the image below in the second half. 

Busan playmaker Kim Jin-kyu receives the ball centre-right and looks up to see four options ahead, including right back Lee Sang-jun, who hugs the touchline and is level with Busan’s right winger Jung Hoon-sung and forwards An and Park. Out of shot, Domagoj Drožđek is also forward on the left flank, meaning the playmaker has five options in front of him (as well as Kim Jeong-hyun as the ‘safe pass’ to his right). 

This passage of play ended in a big chance for Busan, with Jung Hoon-sung shooting wide from the edge of the box with options either side of him.

Drožđek Shines, An Byong-jun Misfires

Drožđek's run and cross led to Jung Hoon-sung's equaliser
Busan’s performance on Saturday can possibly be best described as uneven. There were some great individual showings, not least from midfielder Kim Jeong-hyun and winger Domagoj Drožđek. Drožđek, who opened his goalscoring account for the club in last weekend’s FA Cup win, was Busan’s main attacking outlet in the second half, and although some of his finishing was wayward, his ability to beat defenders and link up with teammates was very impressive. 

There were a few players who were uncharacteristically out of sorts, however. While Park Jeong-in struggled to get involved, captain Kim Jin-kyu was well below his best, relying on VAR and Choi Pil-su respectively to spare his blushes after twice losing the ball in dangerous areas. 

An Byong-jun, meanwhile, was the hero in Busan’s win over Gimcheon with a well-taken brace, but he didn’t bring his shooting boots against Ansan. The North Korean forward had two opportunities to win the game for Busan in stoppage time, picked out excellently by Drožđek and Park Min-kyu respectively, but he shot straight at the keeper with the first and somehow fired wide with the second with the goal at his mercy. A striker of An’s quality will rue such chances passing him by, and ultimately Busan may see the game as two points dropped.

Busan Player Ratings

GK – Choi Pil-su – 7 – Made a vital save to deny Choi Geon-joo when 1-0 down. Could do nothing for Ansan’s goal. 

RB – Lee Sang-jun – 6 – Grew in confidence as the game wore on, contributed well at both ends. 

CB – Kim Seung-woo – 6 – Another solid game defensively. Booked late on. 

CB – Hwang Jun-ho – 6 – First league start in 15 months but contributed to a creditable display from a reshuffled defence. 

LB – Park Min-kyu – 7 – Very impressive in the second half as Busan pushed down the left flank. 

CM – KIM JEONG-HYUN – 8 – Excellent all-action display. Continuously broke up Ansan attacks and bossed the midfield. Led the team for passes (41), pass completion (79%), aerial duels won (9), and acquisitions (21). 

CM – Kim Jin-kyu – 5 – Out of sorts after a week with the Korea U23s. Twice lucky to escape after losing the ball in dangerous areas. Subbed. 

RW – Lee Tae-min – 5 – Some nice moments in the opening stages but faded after taking some knocks. Subbed at half time. 

SS – Park Jeong-in – 5 – Ran hard but struggled to get involved. 

LW – Domagoj Drožđek – 8 – Busan’s biggest threat, a constant menace down the left wing. 

CF – An Byong-jun – 5 – Always looked dangerous and led the line well, but missed two huge chances in stoppage time to win the game. 

Jung Hoon-sung (on for Lee Tae-min, 46’) – 6 – Lively with inconsistent results, but scored the vital equalising goal. 

Lee Rae-jun (on for Kim Jin-kyu, 65’) – 5 – A mixed bag, but contributed to an improved team performance after the hour mark.

Ansan Greeners Lineup:
(3-4-3): Lee Seung-bin; Kim Min-ho, Yeon Jei-min, Song Joo-ho; Lee Jun-hee (Kim Jin-rae 73'), Lee Sang-min, Kim Hyun-tae (Kim Dae-yeol 54'), Min Jun-yeong; Asnawi (Lim Jae-hyuk 61'), Kim Ryun-do, Choi Geon-joo


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