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FC Seoul win first Super Match of 2022 with goals from Paločević and Na Sang-ho

Second-half goals from Aleksander Paločević and Na Sang-ho give FC Seoul the win in the first Super Match of 2022. At Seoul World Cup Stadium on Sunday 10th April, in front of 14,625, FC Seoul picked up their second win of the season and first since the opening day to move up to eighth in the table. Suwon Bluewings, meanwhile, stay stuck on one win in 2022 and second-bottom of the table. 
The Super Match is still "super". Because its name contains an adjective it's almost as if the Super Match has to prove itself every time the two teams involved in it meet. The most recent may not have been a K League Final or an FA Cup Final but it was a game of football and an occasion that lived up to the name 'Super Match'. 

It had all ingredients of one: fans in full voice, good goals, fiery moments, and big players making the difference.

Heading into the last 10 minutes or so it appeared as though this first Super Match of the season was going to end in a truce with neither team able to break the deadlock.

But on 79 minutes a big goal from a big player in this FC Seoul team, Aleksandar Paločević, opened the scoring. The Serbian attacking midfielder showed great composure to guide the ball into the far corner with his left foot after cutting in on the right flank.

A second followed just over 10 minutes later with Na Sang-ho firing in a stoppage-time penalty. Cho Young-wook was adjudged to have been brought down by Lee Han-do and, despite the long delay while the referee checked whether it was a foul or not, Na blasted home his penalty into the top corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way in the process. 

Match Report

In terms of personnel. Han Seung-gyu was handed his first start since returning to the club and after starring home the equaliser against Gangwon in midweek. Lee Tae-seok returned to left-back in place of Kim Jin-ya in a back four that, other than the left-back spot, has stayed largely unchanged. 

In a 4-1-4-1 Ki Sung-yeung was in his usual role of marshalling the defence while Paločević partnered Han Seung-gyu, flanked by Na Sang-ho and Cho Young-wook with youngster Kim Sin-jin up top.

For Suwon, Park Kun-ha opted for a front three of Ryu Seung-woo, Kim Gun-hee and Jeong Seung-won in a 3-4-3. Young goalkeeper Par Ji-min was handed a rare start, only his second start for the club and first since November 2019. Lee Han-do started his first Super Match, as did Dave Bulthuis along side him in Suwon's back three. 

First half

The game got off to a frenzied start with both teams having looks at goal in the first 10 minutes or so. Jeed up by a vocal crowd, both FC Seoul and Suwon Bluewings looked to draw first blood and do so early.

Young goalkeeper Park Ji-min was called into action relatively early too and produced a good save from a Na Sang-ho shot from the left. Then just a few minutes later, Park was alert to prevent Na Sang-ho again, this time with Na cutting in from the right-hand side to dispatch a left-footed shot.

Suwon thought they'd broken the deadlock on nine minutes but Kim Kun-hee was deemed offside when Lee Ki-je's cross came on from the right. He headed in from a short corner but the referee's assistant raised his flag immediately.

The roar from the away end, although in vein, was something that hadn't been heard since 2019. Football is slowly coming back to life after two full seasons of either muted crowds or no crowds at all and reaffirmed that this was indeed a Super Match with a lot at stake.

The game settled down a little bit thereafter and Suwon made it difficult for FC Seoul to break them down. The Bluewings, though, looked dangerous on the break with Kim Gun-hee alert to deliveries from Jeong Seung-won and Ryu Seung-woo.

An excellent chance fell for FC Seoul in the 36th minute with young striker Kim Sin-jin finding himself bearing down on goal. It looked as though he had too much time and in the end, Suwon were able to clear their lines. But the chance came from a lovely ball over the top from Lee Han-beom who, with a lack of options in front of him, dinked a ball through to Kim Sin-jin who took a touch or two and tried ti usher the ball on to his left foot to shoot but just couldn't quite connect. 

Straight up the other end almost immediately Suwon came close, Kim Gun-hee found space in the channel before forcing a good save from Yang Han-been.

The two chances woke the teams up a bit and both seemed more determined to break the deadlock in this first half but the teams went in at the break level at 0-0


Second half

The second half began much like the first did - at a high tempo and with both teams looking to get in behind. In the second half, both teams were also kicking towards their own fans.

For all their endeavour, Seoul just lacked a little bit of composure and, without an experienced centre forward, lacked a focal point at times.

Suwon, meanwhile, continued to play the ball out from the back but lacked the incision they had in the first period. 

The first subs were made in the 72nd minute. Lee Sang-min came on for his FC Seoul debut with Lee Han-beom going off injured. For Suwon, Kang Hyun-muk replaced Elvis Sarić.

First Super Matches of the season often end in a draw and it became a genuine fear that this one would too and the fans at Sangam wouldn't have a goal to celebrate.

It is worth noting that, although they were in full voice - at both ends - there were one or two messages from the stadium management that cheering was not allowed.  

Until the South Korean government fully lifts COVID-19 restrictions, or at least loosens them, chanting and cheering at sporting events is still, technically, not allowed. But, undeterred, the fans continued to sing and went through the repertoire.

Things livened up in the stands even more when a few vigorous tackles were made and with differing opinions being shared among the managers and referee.

It had definitely been a Super Match until this point but the game was crying out for a goal. 

Osmar seemed to want to take matters into his own hands and found himself in the left-wing position and in a position to cross. The Spaniard had the composure to put the ball in towards the middle but Na Sang-ho's outside-of-the-foot half-volley was blocked.

GOAL!! The goal did eventually come and did so via a superbly struck shot from Aleksander Palocevic! Suwon had tried to counter but a key interception in the middle of the park got Seoul on a counter of their own.

The ball made its way from Cho Young-wook to Paločević on the right flank who cut in and curled the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot. Cue the pyrotechnics behind the goal and pandemonium in the stands - FC Seoul 1-0 Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

Paločević didn't have much else to do after that as just a minute or so later he was replaced by Kang Seong-jin. 

Suwon then made a double sub, Sebastian Grønning and Oh Hyeon-gyu on for Yoo Je-ho and Ryu Seung-woo.

Penalty to FC Seoul!! The referee pointed to the spot after Lee Han-do was adjudged to have up-ended Cho Young-wook. Pushing and shoving followed with Han Seung-gyu clearly not happy with Dave Bulthuis who tried to pick Cho Young-wook up after he was fouled in the box. All 22 players got involved as did the two assistant referees and the main referee himself. 

A lot of conferring went on between one of the referee's assistants, the referee, and with VAR but eventually, the spot-kick was confirmed.

GOAL!! Na Sang-ho had put the ball down on the spot to take the penalty and waited patiently before the referee allowed him to, emphatically finding the back of the net. Into time added on and it was now FC Seoul 2-0 Suwon Bluewings.

Soon after, the referee blew for full time. FC Seoul pick up their first win since the opening day while defeat for Suwon Bluewings means it is now seven games without a win for Park Kun-ha's men.


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