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Summer Heat: Three Takeaways

Suwon Samsung Bluewings recorded a huge victory over Seongnam FC in their bid to remain in the top flight, while Jeju United put forth their best performance of the season, defeating Pohang Steelers on their home patch to remain in the race for ACL qualification.  Daejeon Hana Citizen came away winners against Chungnam Asan in the Chungcheong Derby to keep their hopes alive for the K League 2 division title and automatic promotion.  KLU's Branko Belan recaps the weekend. 


Bluewings Breeze to Victory

Suwon Bluewings got a much-needed win over the weekend against Seongnam FC, walking away 4-1 winners at the final whistle thanks to goals from Ko Myeong-seok, Oh Hyun-gyu, and a pair from Jeon Jin-woo.  It was only their sixth win of the season.  Despite having only forty-three percent of the ball, they managed 21 attempts at goal, with nine finding the target.  The win means that the relegation battle gets a lot more interesting now with three teams in the thick of it - Bluewings, Daegu FC, and Gimcheon Sangmu are separated by just a point in the standings, with Bluewings set to face Jeju United next weekend, while Gimcheon host Ulsan Hyundai.  The Sky Blues are idle this coming weekend.

Suwon have never been relegated in the club's history but could be in danger of doing so if things do not turn around fast.  Their upcoming schedule doesn't do them any favors, either as, after traveling to Jeju, they face Gangwon FC at home, then are away to FC Seoul for the third Super Match of the season.  Their next four matches following the derby are against Ulsan Hyundai, Incheon United, Pohang Steelers, and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.  Needless to say, this will be a critical spell of matches that could determine their fate at the end of the season.

Tangerines Run Rampant Against Steelers

Jeju recorded a huge win to stay in the hunt for ACL qualification.
In what was a must-win match for Jeju United last weekend in terms of staying in the race for Asian Champions League qualification, the Tangerines put forth their best performance of the season, with a sizzling 5-0 display with 2020 ACL MVP Yoon Bit-garam leading the way with a pair of goals.  Gerso Fernandes also got his name on the scoresheet, and Joo Min-kyu and Jonathan Ring scored within minutes of each other at the end of the match to round out the scoring.

For a team that has been down on form lately, the win comes as a relief, but things don't get too much easier for them as they have Ulsan Hyundai, Suwon FC, and Incheon United next on their calendar.  They need to build on the result against Pohang if they are to finish the regular season with the momentum needed to mount a charge for continental football next year.  They finished just one point off the pace last year and a lot of work was done to improve the roster coming into the 2022 campaign, so the hope is that they will be able to string together some results to stay relevant in the top half.  Consistency will be key to their hopes if they don't want to be on the short end of the stick yet again.

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Chungcheong Derby to Daejeon

Daejeon stay second after their Chungcheong Derby win.
Daejeon Hana Citizen picked up an important victory over Chungnam Asan in the Chungcheong Derby over the weekend, benefitting from goals by the Brazilian pair of Renato Kayzer and Willyan, who scored within four minutes of each other at the end of the first half after Yoo Kang-hyun had converted from the spot in the 34th minute.  The win allowed them to remain in second place, just a point ahead of Bucheon FC 1995 and FC Anyang.  While the deficit with Gwangju FC is still twelve points, they have two matches in hand and could cut that point difference in half should they win those matches, giving the title race a bit more spice as the season heads into the fall.

Their next three matches see them up against playoff-chasing Gyeongnam FC on the road, followed by a pair of home matches against their direct competitors in the division, FC Anyang on August 21st and Bucheon FC 1995 the following week.  This three match stretch will be their proving ground - can they pull away from their competition and possibly challenge for the division crown or will they be resigned to being just a playoff team?  The near future should paint a much clearer picture.

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