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As Summer Heats Up, Leaders Cool Down: Three Takeaways

There were only two winners over the weekend in the first division, as the top six got completely shut out of the win column.  The Suwon Derby went to Suwon FC, with Lee Seung-woo scoring in his fourth successive match as he makes his case for inclusion into the South Korean national team ahead of the EAFF-E1 Championship to be held in Japan next month.  Gwangju FC continues to have a healthy lead atop division two despite a lopsided loss to Gyeongnam FC as the chasing pack were unable to make up significant ground.  KLU's Branko Belan reviews the weekend that was.


Top Six Held Winless in Division One

In a rare occurrence, the top six teams in division one were all kept out of the win column, as Ulsan Hyundai settled for a scoreless draw against Seongnam FC, Jeonbuk Hyundai and Daegu FC played to a 1-1 draw, Jeju United were thumped 4-2 by Gangwon FC, the Gyeongin Derby finished 1-1, and Pohang Steelers also played out a 1-1 draw with Gimcheon Sangmu.  The results mean that there was no significant movement in the table, with Ulsan maintaining an eight point lead over Jeonbuk Hyundai in second place.

The biggest losers in this scenario were the islanders, who had a chance to draw level on points with Jeonbuk but were outclassed by a determined Gangwon side, who lodged perhaps their best performance of the season.  Some would regard it as an upset, but on closer examination, the head-to-head series between the two is virtually even, with Jeju winning ten matches to Gangwon's nine, with seven matches ending in draws.  The caveat, however, is that the Tangerines have not beaten Gangwon since 2019 and will have to make up for their poor performance when the sides meet again in September.

Lee Seung-woo Making a Case For Himself

Lee Seung-woo has eight goals in 2022 thus far.
Lee Seung-woo has been on top form lately, with four goals in each of his past four starts, giving him eight total for the season to go along with a pair of assists.  His latest success came in a 3-0 win for Suwon FC against Suwon Samsung Bluewings.  After a frustrating period in Europe, which saw his match time diminished, his move back home to Korea has paid dividends in a big way.

After being held off the scoresheet in his first five matches, he caught fire, scoring four goals in five matches to get himself off and running, and after another dry spell, has started to find the back of the net with some regularity over the past month.  His performances have benefitted the club, as they have won three matches in a row, and now there is a distinct possibility of him being called into the national team by Paulo Bento for the EAFF-E1 Championship in Japan next month, as European-based players likely will not be included.  Should he get the call, one should consider that a strong performance could even put him in the conversation for the World Cup in Qatar, especially with the recent decision to expand national team rosters for the tournament to twenty-six players.  

A Mulligan For the Yellows

Gyeongnam put in a convincing performance to stay within touching distance in the playoff race.
Gwangju FC were humbled 4-1 by Gyeongnam FC over the weekend but it didn't make much of a difference as the chasing pack is still well behind in the standings.  Daejeon Hana Citizen had a chance to make up some ground, but had to settle for a goal draw against Gimpo FC.  Willyan made his debut for the Purples, however, he may need another match or two before acclimatizing himself with his new teammates.

Hernandes opened the scoring just twelve minutes into the match against the leaders, but Park Han-bin found an equalizer with under ten minutes remaining in the first half.  Three goals in nine minutes in the second half decided the match, as Tiago Orobó, Lee Min-ki, and Ko Kyung-min all found the net for the Reds, who remain four points behind Chungnam Asan for the final playoff spot, as the Owls triumphed 3-1 over Ansan Greeners.

Gwangju will look to get back into the win column next time out when they face Gimpo FC on the road and will have a keen eye on the clash between second and third when Daejeon travel to face Bucheon FC 1995, knowing that anything less than a win for Lee Min-sung's side could see them extend their lead atop the division even further.

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