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Team K League 3-2 Atlético Madrid Recap: All-Stars outshine La Liga giants

A stunning Lee Soon-min strike in time added on earned Team K League a win over Atlético de Madrid, the first match of the 2023 Coupang Play Series. Team K League were lucky to only be 1-0 down at halftime after a strong showing from a near full strength Atletco but the second-half XI took the game to the La Liga giants, much to the frustration of Diego Simeone.
The first match of the 2023 Coupang Play Series, Team K League versus Atlético de Madrid, was a game of two halves with contrasting performances in each. The first 45, at least from a Team K League perspective, was all about the solid saves from Lee Chang-geun and the flag of the referee's assistant preventing Atlético from adding three more goals.

Only Thomas Lemar's goal had separated the two teams at the interval but the second, with the introduction of Gerso, Cesinha, and Zeca in particular saw the hosts have a good go at the La Liga giants. It was Cesinha's free-kick that teed up Anton Kryvotsyuk, the scorer of Team K League's first goal, to level and get Team K League back into proceedings almost as soon as the second half had kicked off.

Atlético regain the lead late on through Carlos Martin with what looked to be the winner but, undeterred, K League kept going. Gerso was a nuisance throughout the second half and earned Team K League a penalty for Paločević to convert on 89 minutes, and then teed up Lee Soon-min for the winner in the 92nd.

Slick link-up play, probing forwards, and the foreign contingent's willingness to have a go were the difference for this genuine team of K League All-Stars.

There were one or two surprises with the Team K League starting lineup. Hong Myung-bo went for two of his own players to line up in a back four with Kim Young-gwon and Seol Young-woo given the nod at centre and right back respectively. Jeong Tae-wook made up the heart of the Team K League defence while Suwon Bluewing Lee Ki-je was preferred at left back. Behind them was Daejeon Hana Citizen 'keeper Lee Chang-geun.

The biggest surprise was perhaps in midfield was Han Kook-young in the centre with Paik Seung-ho and Bae Jun-ho on either side. Up top was as per the fan-voted lineup with Lee Seung-woo, Joo Min-kyu, and Na Sang-ho part of a three-pronged attack.

First half

Atlético started brightly and their slick passing and off-the-ball movement was met with approving oohs and ahhs from the crowd. The first chance of the match fell to Rodrigo De Paul with little over two minutes played. An Atlético corner was nodded clear by Team K League captain Kim Young-gwon by only as far as the Argentinian De Paul whose half-volley stung the gloves of Le Chang-geun, a superb stop from the Daejeon custodian.

Joo Min-kyu, though, almost opened the scoring at the other end just a minute or so later. The Ulsan striker seemed to have a little too much time and eventually got a shot off but Ivo Grbic was able to watch the shot go over the bar.

The atmosphere was eerie to say the very least, certainly while the score was at 0-0. 

But Atlético thought they'd found a seventh-minute lead but Alvaro Morata had just strayed offside before he nearly tucked the ball past Lee Chang-geun.

Joo Min-kyu kept causing Atlético some problems and was determined to make the most of the 45 minutes he was likely to be on the pitch for.

But Atlético took the lead in the 13th minute through Thomas Lemar. Team K League were hit on the counter, Lemar played the ball into Griezmann whose shot was parried by Lee Chang-geun but only as far as Lemar who swept home.

Despite conceding the first goal of the game, Lee Chang-geun was in fine form, as he has been throughout this season for Daejeon, and turned Samuel Lino's shot around the post and then produced another save from the resulting corner, although he was fortunate as the ball ricocheted off his leg and out for another corner but could easily have ended up in the back of his net.

The players in front of Lee, though, struggled to find a rhythm and seldom were able to string together more than a couple of passes. Eager to impress or simply because they had had just one training session together. 

Atlético had another goal chalked off for offside, Alvaro Morato again in the 24th minute.

The La Liga giants then hit the post with Griezmann coming as close as he had done so far. Still, somehow, Team K League were only 1-0 down.

In 26 minutes, Team K League were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position. Lee Ki-je, Suwon Bluewings' free-kick specialist, was unopposed in picking the ball up and getting ready for a shot. It was just off-centre, 25 yards out - Lee Ki-je territory but his effort hit the wall and went out for a corner.

Much of the first half was spent in Team K League's half and was more or less, one-way traffic and had it not have been for the offside flag and Lee Chang-geun, it could have been three or four at the break.

Team K League's next half chance fell on 42 minutes but Paik Seung-ho blazed over the bar from around 19 yards out. On 44 minutes Lee Seung-woo came closer, though, grazing the side netting.

Atlético then had a third goal chalked off for offside, this time Samuel Lino teeing up Morata. Morata must have wondered what he needed to do to score, other than stay onside of course.


Second half

No fewer than seven changes were made at half time with Seol Young-woo, Han Kook-young, Jeong Tae-wook, and Na Sang-ho returning for the second half. 

The difference in understanding and chemistry was clear with Cesinha, Gerso Fernandes, and Zeca showing some good touches and link-up play.

GOAL! Anton Kryvotsyuk nods in a Cesinha free kick to draw Team K League level. Anton was determined to play in the game, urging fans to vote for him and he repaid their faith.

A couple of substitutions were made on 53 minutes with Aleksandar Paločević and Hwang Jae-won coming on for Han Kook-young and Na Sang-ho.

The home side were a completely different team in the second half, personnel-wise of course, but also in how they played. They looked much more confident and assertive than the XI that played the first 45 but this was also a much-changed Atleti XI that took to the field for the second 45.

They were much more direct, too, with Cesinha and Gerso not afraid to drive at Atlético. Gerso caused all kinds of problems for Gismera at right back for the visitors.

A glorious chance for Team K League to make it 2-1 came on 59 minutes with Zeca heading over from little over six yards out. He made good contact with the cross from his Daegu teammate Hwang Jae-won whose ball in was inch-perfect. Still, the score remained 1-1.

On 62 minutes, Jeong Tae-wook went off, and on came Reis. 

This was a game that Team K League could definitely win and they kept going. They came close to raking the lead on 69 minutes after Gerso and earned them a corner. Cesinha's ball in met the head of Reis at the near post but Gomis in goal was able to collect.

After the final drinks break of the night, the match headed into the last 13 minutes or so. Diego Simeone was animated on the touchline throughout the match but was starting to look frustrated with his side's inability to find another goal.

But they did, in the 86th minute much to the disappointment of Team K League. Carlos Martin found space at the back post to get the ball over the line and put the visitors in front. The Alteti bench was up on its feet, relieved more than anything but with the game being taken seriously, happy to find the goal they had been, until then, unable to find.

GOAL!! Penalty to Team K League! Gerso Fernandes was up-ended in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped FC Seoul attacking midfielder Aleksandar Paločević to send Gomis the wrong way and bring Team K League back level.

GOAL!!! Team K League then took the lead through Lee Soon-min who found the bottom corner superbly after Gerso's had cushioned the ball into his path. It proved to be the decisive moment in the game and Team K League pick up the win.


Team K League (1st half): 1 Lee Chang-geun, 23 Lee Ki-je, 19 Kim Young-gwon (c), 3 Jeong Tae-wook, 66 Seol Young-woo, 8 Paik Seung-ho, 14 Han Kook-young, 33 Bae Jun-ho, 11 Lee Seung-woo, 18 Joo Min-kyu, 7 Na Sang-ho

Team K League (2nd half): 21 Jo Hyeon-woo, 98 Anton Kryvotsyuk, 5 Alex Grant, 3 Jeong Tae-wook, 66 Seol Young-woo, 11 Cesinha, 14 Han Kook-young, 44 Lee Soon-min, 12 Gerso Fernandes, 9 Zeca, 7 Na Sang-ho

Substitutions: 2 Hwang Jae-won (Han Kook-young 54'), 26 Aleksandar Paločević (Na Sang-ho 54'), 17 Reis (Jeong Tae-wook 63')

[READ: Team K League Player Ratings]

Atlético Madrid (1st half): 1 Ivo Grbić, 3 César Azpilicueta, 15 Stefan Savić, Mario 22 Hermoso, 20 Alex Witsel, 6 Koke, 11 Thomas Lemar, 5 Rodrigo De Paul, 7 Antoine Griezmann, 19 Álvaro Morata, 12 Samuel Lino

Atlético Madrid (2nd half): 25 Antonio Gomis, 28 Carlos Martin, 29 Álvaro Mouriño, 27 Ilias Kostis, 4 Çağlar Söyüncü, 26 Aitor Gismera, 8 Saúl, 24 Pablo Barrios, 32 Rodrigo Riquelme, 10 Ángel Correa, 18 Javi Galán

Attendance: 58,903 

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