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FC Seoul win 100th K League Super Match with goals from Na Sang-ho, Hwang Ui-jo, Paločević

A first goal from open play for Hwang Ui-jo helped FC Seoul on to victory in the 100th K League Super Match. Na Sang-ho was also on the scoresheet, notching his fifth of the campaign and fourth in as many matches, as was Aleksander Paločević after being hooked in the first half last week.

FC Seoul made light work of their troubled rivals Suwon Bluewings with a 3-1 home win in front of a crowd of over 30,000. Na Sang-ho opened the scoring in the 37th minute, sending the ball into the bottom corner following a nice set of one-twos with Hwang Ui-jo - Na had actually tried to backheel the ball through to Hwang but was most alert when his pass was blocked. 

Seoul's second came seven minutes into the second half, Hwang Ui-jo pouncing onto a loose ball in the box following a Ki Sung-yueng corner. Hwang had spurned a glorious chance just before that but was able to make amends.

Seoul then added a third on the counter with Na Sang-ho's shot parried by Yang Myung-mo but only as far as Paločević who calmly sidefooted the ball into the net from outside the box for his third of the season.

Suwon pulled a goal back through Fejsal Mulić one minute from time but it was Seoul's day, making it five wins for the season and moving up into second place. 

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Points of interest

Team selections of the two managers

Trying to second guess what An Ik-soo is going to do with his starting lineup this week - and mid-game changes to it - has become a fun game for all. Will Iljutcenko get any minutes today; will Paločević be used as a second striker but then get dragged off in the first half; will young striker Kim Sin-jin be trusted into midfield? Seldom does one look at the FC Seoul lineup and think 'Yes, that makes sense.'  

Alas, Seoul's lineup to face the Bluewings made a little more sense this week. Paločević dropped back into midfield with Ki Sung-yeung returning from injury in a midfield four. With Lee Han-beom only returning to training this week, Hwang Hyun-soo was given the nod to start in defence in place of the suspended Kwon Wan-kyu, despite a shaky performance in the FA Cup loss to Gimpo FC. Lim Sang-hyub skippered the side from left wing with Na Sang-ho on the right and, one again, Hwang Ui-jo preferred to Stanislav Iljutcenko as the main striker.

The visiting manager, though, Suwon Bluewings' stand-in gaffer Choi Sung-yong, omitted Dave Bulthuis and Go Myeong-seok from his starting lineup - out of the match-day squad altogether in Bulthuis' case with the Dutchman picking up a knock in training. Choi went away from the usual back four that Lee Byung-keun preferred, opting for a three of Jang Ho-ik, Han Ho-gang, and Park Dae-won. 

Suwon's midfield made for slightly better reading, though, with exciting prospect Yoo Je-ho alongside Bassani in the centre, flanked by Lee Ki-je and Jeong Seung-won on each wing in a 3-4-3. Up top, An Byong-jun was chosen to lead the line with Fejsal Mulić dropping to the bench.

Na Sang-ho's an early candidate for the golden boot

Na Sang-ho has made no secret of his desire to be the top scorer in K League 1. He reiterated this to the media after the match saying that it would be a lie to say that he isn't greedy in that regard. He's now on five goals for the season and sits joint-top of the K League 1 scoring charts after a fourth goal in as many matches. 

Na's 14 shots ranks him 19th in the division and six on target puts him at 16 which isn't that impressive but it does show is that when he lands a shot on target it usually results in a goal. His strike against Suwon - and the one against Daegu in the 3-0 win - show how alert he is in the 18-yard box. With the way Seoul's front three operate, Na will be expecting more goals and is quite right to have golden boot "greed."

Hwang Ui-jo finally scores from open play

Hwang's record before the Super Match read played seven and scored one, a penalty in the 3-0 win over Daegu. The Korean international was, despite his best efforts, yet to score from open play and in the first five minutes of the Super Match second half, had a glorious chance to make it 2-0 and break his duck but instead blazed a shot over from no more than eight yards out. Hwang knew it was as good a chance as he was likely to get.

But the goal came just a few minutes later, latching onto a loose ball in the box following a corner to make it 2-0. Ki's corner was flicked on by Osmar and then Kim Ju-sung but landed at the feet of Jeong Seung-won. Jeung was unable to react fast enough and Hwang span and drilled the ball into the bottom corner.

It was from a corner so saying the goal was from open play wouldn't be completely accurate but it was a first non-penalty goal and, perhaps more importantly, a proper striker's goal. Prior to Saturday's Super Match, Hwang had been very unlucky having managed nine shots on target - the second-most in the division.

Are Seoul really back?

The win puts Seoul second in the table and following Ulsan's draw with Pohang, means An Ik-soo's men are second and three points behind the league leaders. Three goals in the Super Match also puts Seoul level with Ulsan and Daejeon as the division's top scorers. But, it's hard to say whether Seoul are back because of the situation that Suwon Bluewings are in. They are definitely better with the ball than they were last term when they failed to make the most of the possession they had. Seoul also look dangerous on the counterattack and, as they've shown, find ways to get numbers forward when they do so meaning that if the first attempt doesn't work, they are players arriving from deep for plan B. It's early days but Seoul look on course for a top-six finish and potentially a push for ACL qualification. The big test will be how they react to a couple of defeats in a row, should that sort of situation occur.


What's going on with Iljutcenko?

What is going on with Stanislav Iljutcenko remains a mystery. One of K League's deadliest marksmen over the last three or four years, the former Pohang and Jeonbuk man has started four games for FC Seoul in the league and three of those matches saw him taken off at half time. Against Suwon, he was given a sympathy runout with little over a couple of minutes left to play. It's not a fitness issue, that much is clear given how Iljutcenko played 120 minutes against Gimpo and little would be made of the situation if he wasn't club captain. 

What next for Suwon?

Suwon Bluewings look in real trouble. They look completely devoid of confidence after suffering sux defeats from eight matches. The Bluewings also lack genuine quality at the back - their back three of Jang Ho-ik, Park Dae-won, and Han Ho-gang is not a K League 1 level. Dave Bulthuis picking up an injury just highlighted how light Suwon are in that area of the pitch. The club will need to bring in reinforcements when the summer transfer window opens but, as that's still two months away, whoever is in charge of the team will have to get more out of the players. Dave Bulthuis, Kim Bo-kyung, Lee Ki-je, Jeong Seung-won, An Byong-jun, Jeon Jin-woo, and Fejsal Mulic are proven players at this level, some more so than others, but there's enough quality to be doing better. 

What's interesting about the Bluewings is that they lead the league for shots (106) and are joint-fourth for shots on target (38). They've only gone ahead twice in games and failed to win on both occasions - winning one and drawing one. When they've gone behind, something which has happened seven times out of eight matches, they have gone on to lose six and earn just one point. 

Choi Sung-yong will be hoping that Acosty and Bulthuis are back fit again soon as their experience and quality will be a huge boost for them as they head into the second round robin of the season.

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