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The Return: Three Takeaways

It was an eventful weekend as K League 1 returned to action following an extended international break.  FC Seoul won the second Super Match of the season, while Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors got the better of Ulsan Hyundai away from home.  In K League 2, Gwangju FC maintained a nine point gap at the top of the table, while the playoff picture is tighter than ever.  KLU's Branko Belan recaps the action.
 

Jeonbuk Hyundai Record Convincing Victory on the Road

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors knew they had to get a win against Ulsan Hyundai over the weekend to close the gap on the league leaders, and did just that, with an emphatic 3-1 win at Munsu Stadium.  Takahiro Kunimoto scored a pair of goals for the visitors after Modou Barrow had opened the scoring after just eighteen minutes.  Eom Won-sang would pull a goal back for the hosts late in the first half, giving The Green Warriors a two goal cushion heading into the break.

Ulsan dominated possession during the match by a considerable margin but could not make the ball work for them.  Jeonbuk defended resolutely over the course of the second half despite being under a fair bit of pressure, and the result on the scoreboard remained unchanged at the final whistle.  Ulsan remain top of the league for the time being but it was not only an important win for Jeonbuk but also a good performance.  After having some difficulty finding the net at times this season, a three goal output against their main rivals for another potential title will do quite a bit to soothe the nerves of Kim Sang-sik, who has come under criticism for not closing out matches well.  The gap between the two sides in the table is now eight points, but Jeju remain second, just a point ahead of the five-time defending champions, with a new slate of matches to come in midweek.

FC Seoul Capture Second Super Match of the Season

Cho Young-wook was the hero in FC Seoul's derby win.
The second Super Match of the year was yet another tight affair as was to be expected, with the red and black once again coming away winners by a single goal margin.  The hero this time 'round was Cho Young-wook, who found the back of the net just before the hour mark.  Both sides combined for only three shots on target the entire match, a telling statistic that demonstrated what a tight match it was.  FC Seoul had the brunt of possession throughout and did just enough in the end to capture all three points and clinch bragging rights for the rest of the season in one of K League's most heated derbies.

Both teams got off to a nervy start with early turnovers that could have resulted in either team going in front but the respective back lines held together well and forwards for both teams were kept in check.  Suwon Bluewings should have gone in front in the latter stages of the first half when Kang Hyun-muk was played in one-on-one with Yang Han-been.  The FC Seoul 'keeper came off his line to cut off the angle and prevent the scoring chance.  Had Kang looked to his right, he had Ryu Seung-woo completely open for a tap-in but elected to go for goal himself.

That missed opportunity would come back to haunt them in the second half, when the visitors struck the telling blow on 58 minutes.  Hwang In-beom lofted a ball onto the left wing for Na Sang-ho, who momentarily lost possession, regained it, turned his defender, and floated a ball into the area where Cho Young-wook rose well to nod home at the far post.  That seemed to swing the momentum completely in Seoul's direction, and, while Elvis Saric had a volleyed effort late to try and snatch an equalizer, it was always rising and finished well over the bar.  For FC Seoul, three points on the night moved them back into the top half of the table.

Have Gwangju Already Sealed Automatic Promotion?

Gwangju FC remain firmly in the driver's seat in K League 2.
Gwangju FC maintained a nine point lead in the second division after having to settle for a 1-1 draw against Jeonnam Dragons on the weekend.  Park In-hyeok gave Jeonnam the lead on 64 minutes only for Kim Jong-woo to find an equalizer for the league leaders fourteen minutes later.  In doing so, they could not extend their lead at the top of the table, nor did they relinquish their lead, as Daejeon Hana Citizen missed an excellent opportunity to make up ground by also settling for a 2-2 draw against FC Anyang, despite having a two goal advantage for the majority of the match.

The two sides will meet tomorrow night with the Yellows having a chance to put daylight between themselves and the rest of the division should they manage to get a win.  They round out the month of June with a home match against playoff-seeking Gyeongnam FC, who currently find themselves in sixth place, four points off the final berth.  They play their first match in July against Gimpo Citizen away, then host a reeling Bucheon FC 1995 side that was in the title hunt for much of the first part of the season but have since cooled off.  Seoul E-Land, FC Anyang, and Busan IPark will be their next three opponents before facing Daejeon once again to finish out the month.  If they can manage to keep their distance, their path to title glory will look a lot clearer heading into the month of August.

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