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FC Seoul 0-1 Seongnam FC: Seoul still not safe after defeat to Magpies

FC Seoul are left searching for that elusive post-split win and the points that would seal survival. But a 1-0 draw at home to already-relegated Seongnam FC leaves the capital club just two points clear of rivals Suwon Bluewings who have a better goals-scored tally and in danger of being dragged into the relegation playoff places.

A win for the Bluewings on final day and a defeat for Seoul would mean the two sides would swap places and FC Seoul would have to go into the relegation playoffs.

The Round 37 clash at Seoul World Cup Stadium was the third time this season that FC Seoul come unstuck against Seongnam FC, failing to score despite dominating possession. In the Round 3 0-0 draw at Tancheon in March, Seoul had 76% possession and in the Round 14 1-0 home loss in May, Seoul had 74% possession.

Things weren't quite as one-sided on this slightly chilly October evening at Seoul World Cup Stadium but FC Seoul had more of the ball than the Magpies.

Match Summary

After a goalless first half, Fejsal Mulić came off the bench to convert a penalty in the 79th minute to earn the Magpies their first win of Final B in 2022.

A win for Suwon Bluewings earlier in the day meant that it was imperative that FC Seoul beat Seongnam FC to seal safety.

It was a strong starting lineup too from An Ik-soo, opting for Stanislav Iljutcenko in attack with Ki Sung-yueng and Aleksandar Paločević in central midfield and a back three of Osmar, Kim Ju-sung and Lee Sang-min. There was also a first start since July for left-back Ko Kwang-min and only a second of the season.

Seongnam caretaker boss opted to start Manuel Palacios up top alongside Koo Bon-cheol. There was no place in the starting XI for Fejsal Mulić but he was on the bench alongside regulars Park Soo-il and Sim Dong-woon. Miloš Raičković left out of the squad altogether. 

[READ: K League 2 Final Day Recap: Record points totals and worst-ever finishes]

First Half

Iljutcenko had a glorious chance to make it 1-0 on 13 minutes, finding himself unmarked just inside the box but the big striker skewed his shot wide and the score remained goalless.

Another chance fell to Na Sang-ho on the half-volley unmarked but the Seoul skipper sent the ball over the crossbar.

Seongnam had a chance through Lee Jae-won shortly after but the effort didn't test the 'keeper and Seoul got away with it.

FC Seoul thought they'd found the lead from a free-kick on 26 minutes, Ki Sung-yeung and Aleksandar Paločević were both stood over the ball but Ki sent an out-swinging cross into the box right-footed. The cross found the head of  Iljutencko whose header found the bottom corner but the linesman on the near side's flag went up immediately and the goal was chalked off. 

Na Sang-ho and Manuel Palacios compete for the ball in the first half

Seongnam came close shortly after, hitting the outside of the side netting from a free-kick taken by Koo Bon-cheol. 

But there wasn't an awful lot between the two teams in the first half, either could have gone on to win, and the first half ended 0-0.


Second Half

FC Seoul boss used the break to make some tactical and personnel adjustments, Cho Young-wook came on in place of Kang Seong-jin on the wing.

Seoul's better looks at goal came from set pieces in the first period and this was no different in the opening exchanges of the second.

Ki again the man tasked with supplying Seoul's forward from the dead ball situation and again Seoul found the back of the net, only for the goal to again be chalked off. 

Osmar, in competing for the ball with goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang, was adjudged to have fouled the Seongnam custodian and by the time the ball rolled into the net off Kim Ju-sung the referee's mind was already made up.

Straight up the other end, once Kim Young-kwang had received treatment from what was clearly a horrendous injury judging from the anguish on his face, and Koo Bon-cheol came close to breaking the deadlock. The former Incheon man found space at the edge of the box to usher the ball onto his left foot but his effort was just a few centimetres wide and the score remained nil-nil.

While Seoul looked more in control and composed when working their way up the pitch, the remained a chance they could still get picked off on the counter with the pace of Palacious.

But Stanislav Iljutcenko cut an isolated and frustrated figure up front on his own. The former Pohang and Jeonbuk striker scored two when these two sides last met, a 2-0 win in August, but his supporting cast would have to make better use of him if he was going to steal the show again today.

In the 69th minute, Na Sang-ho came ever so close to finding the game's opener, forcing a good save from Seongnam goalkeeper Kim Young-wang from a powerful header.

Seongnam then made a change, Fejsal Mulić was brought on in place of Manuel Palacios up top.

Seoul manager An Ik-soo then introduced Kwon Sung-yun in place of Ko Kwang-min on the left-hand side. His first contribution was to start a move that almost ended in a goal for Iljutcenko but the German striker was unable to turn and found the target.

VAR was checked for a possible handball and penalty for Seongnam on 78 minutes, Kim Ju-sung the offender.m

GOAL! The referee didn't spend much time looking at it and pointed to the spot. Up stepped Mulić who sent Yang Han-been the wrong way to give the Magpies the lead.

The away end screamed with delight, a deathly silence fell everywhere else across Sangam as spending next season in K League 2 with Seongnam became a realistic possibility.

Seoul then made two more subs, Cho Ji-hun and Kim Sin-jin on for Palocevic and Ki Sung-yueng. Seongnam too with Ma Sang-hoon on for Choi Ji-muk.

Things were getting desperate for Seoul. Kwon Sung-yun threw himself to the floor looking for a penalty but the referee wasn't interested.

A chance which came off the inside of the post was met with frantic gesturing from the Seoul players asking for the referee to check VAR. The ball hadn't crossed the line.

The Seoul fans kept singing but one of their regular numbers was remixed to include the words "Ik-soo out", showing their displeasure with the current management.

Park Soo-il was brought on for Seongnam replacing Koo Bon-cheol to shore things up at the back.

Four minutes were added on at the end of the second half but Seoul were unable to find a breakthrough.

The full-time whistle was met with a chorus of boos. FC Seoul now need to win on the final day to guarantee they do not have to face either FC Anyang, Bucheon FC 1995, or Gyeongnam FC in the relegation playoffs.

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