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K League 1 Finals A and B Round 35: Three Takeaways

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors edged ahead in the title race while the race for third place remains hot as ever as both Daegu FC and Jeju United recorded wins at the weekend.  Final B remains undecided with two rounds of matches still to play, thanks to Gwangju FC's shock victory over Pohang Steelers last time out.  The finish to this year's K League 1 season is going to the line and with so much still to play for, it's impossible to predict just how things will finish up.


Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Lead in the Standings

A fifth minute injury time winner in the second half from Stanislav Iljutcenko confirmed the four time defending champions victory against rivals Ulsan Hyundai last weekend in what was one of the best league matches of the season to date.  Song Min-kyu and Lim Jong-eun traded goals in the first half before Ryu Jae-moon and Lee Chung-yong did the same in the second half.

Just when it looked as though the sides would each take a share of the spoils, on came the Russian at the end of regulation for Gustavo, and made the impact that would decide the result, heading in Takahiro Kunimoto's left-sided cross to give the Green Warriors all three points and a leg up as the title race draws to a close.

For Ulsan goalkeeper Jo Hyun-woo, it was one of his less spectacular showings of the season and for Jeonbuk, there could be a selection dilemma up front when the playoff reconvenes after the international break as Iljutcenko seemed to hint he should be the team's number one striker during his celebration after scoring the winner.  Jeonbuk next takes on Suwon FC away on November 21st while Ulsan will host Jeju United.

The Battle for Third Stays Hot

Edgar's double secured victory for the Sky Blues.
Both Daegu FC and Jeju United scored important victories last weekend as the Sky Blues saw off Suwon FC while the Tangerines got past Suwon Bluewings at home.  Those results allowed Lee Byung-keun's men to maintain a one point advantage in a very tight race for third.  Daegu overturned an early one goal deficit which saw Lars Veldwijk put the visitors in front after just seven minutes, but Edgar Silva responded with a pair of goals of his own, scoring his first goal in the twentieth minute and adding his second twelve minutes later.

Daegu would go down to ten men when Lee Jin-yong was sent off for a second bookable offense but the home side managed to hold onto the result until the final whistle.

Joo Min-kyu's scoring streak continued, as he found the net twice for the third consecutive match, bringing his season total to 21 goals in his account, making him the clear favorite at the moment for the K League 1 Golden Boot.  Lee Chang-keun collected another clean sheet in his sixth consecutive start and Kim Oh-gyu had another great performance in the back for the islanders, who are now unbeaten in their past six matches.

With matches still to come against Jeonbuk and Ulsan, not only can they impact the title race, but they will also be affecting their own finish as they look to lock up an Asian Champions League berth for the first time since 2018.

Relegation Battle Suddenly Complicated

Reis' 48th minute strike was enough to get Gwangju all three points against Pohang.
Just when it seemed all was lost, Gwangju FC pulled off a bit of a shocker in defeating ACL Final-bound Pohang Steelers by a count of 2-1 last weekend.  That puts them just three points behind Gangwon FC at the moment, and they have scored two more goals than the 11th placed side who will play their final two matches of the season without a manager following the recent sacking of Kim Byung-soo.

Sitting on 41 points, Seongnam FC look safe with just two round to go, but they are in direct "conflict" with the two sides below them, as they take on Gwangju at home on November 27th before heading away to Gangwon the following week to finish out their campaign.  

If the Yellows somehow manage to pull out a win against the Magpies, it will leave them with the unenviable task of hosting Incheon United at home on December 4th in a match which could still save their season if they still have a mathematical chance of at least securing a spot in the Promotion/Relegation Playoff against Daejeon Hana Citizen.  

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