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#SuperMatch Recap: Bassani winner gives Bluewings stay of execution

Rodrigo Bassani in the 64th minute of the 2023 Hana 1Q K League 1 Round 37 Super Match scored what could be one of the most important goals in Suwon Bluewings' entire history. The goal and resulting three points for the Bluewings take survival down to the final game of the season.

The 103rd Super Match could be the last until at least 2025. Anything but a win for the Bluewings could’ve spelt relegation as Gangwon FC earned a 2-0 win over Suwon FC. Both games kicked off at the same time on Saturday; the Bluewings simply had to concentrate on getting the job done. 

Although it wasn't the best of games with neither side showing a great deal of quality for prolonged spells, getting the job done is exactly what Suwon did. After a goalless first half, Bassani picked the ball up from An Byong-jun just past the centre circle and only had one thing on his mind. The Brazilian was unopposed as he moved slightly more centrally before shooting from outside the D right into the corner. The eruption from the Suwon fans behind the goal and the entire Bluewings bench joining in the celebrations served as a reminder as to just how important this game was.

Perhaps one of the biggest talking points came over an hour before the game kicked off. The Suwon Bluewings lineup raised a few eyebrows with Yeom Ki-hun opting to start Werik Popó up top and Rodrigo Bassani on the wing. Neither had exactly made their mark for Suwon this season plus on the bench were the two players who combined to find the Suwon Derby winner last time out - Fejsal Mulic and Kim Ju-chan. The decision to include Bassani turned out to be the right one.

It was a 4-4-2 with Acosty at left wing, Bassani on the right and a central midfield pairing of Ko Seung-beom and Lee Jong-sung. With Dave Bulthuis not fit yet Kim Ju-won and Han Ho-kang started at the heart of the Suwon back four. 

The FC Seoul lineup was strong. After all, even with nothing to play for, caretaker manager Kim Jin-kyu could ill afford to overlook the Super Match given how disappointing the 2023 campaign turned out to be for these fallen giants. A positive end to the campaign might even persuade the higher-ups that he is the man to fill the manager’s seat on a more permanent basis. It was a 3-4-3 on paper with a front three of Iljutcenko being flanked by Na Sang-ho to his left and Willyan to his right. 

First half

There was a desperation about Suwon, as could be expected given what was at stake. Acosty offered calm and composure in the final third and Wrik Popó looked industrious enough that he might cause Seoul some problems. Acosty came the closest to breaking the deadlock, a header at the back post but the angle was too tight.

Just before 5 PM, news filtered through that Gangwon FC had gone 1-0 up - cue the ‘Suwon gangdeung’ (relegated Suwon) chants from the FC Seoul supporters. This meant that the Bluewings simply had to find a way through.

They had a spell of fairly sustained pressure. It wasn’t quite clicking for Seoul but Suwon were beginning to find a bit of a rhythm as the match approached and went over the half-hour mark.

Acosty had a better look on goal in the 38th minute. Suwon broke on the counter, Werik Popó fed Acosty who took a touch and steadied himself before attempting to find the bottom left corner but Seoul ‘keeper Baek Jong-beom was alert enough to turn it round the post and out for a corner. Nothing came from the resulting corner taken by Ko Seung-beom, a man looking to avoid back-to-back relegations having also been part of the Gimcheon side that went down in 2022.

Suwon looked dangerous on the counter. Acosty broke free on 44 minutes and tried to slide the ball into An Byong-jun advancing into the box but Seoul were able to avert the danger. 

Baek was kept fairly busy and produced the save of the match so far heading into the break.  It was an unbelievable save, Peter Schmeichel-esque even, to prevent Swuon from getting the goal that they so craved. Werik Popó’s initial shot from a slight angle around 10 yards out was deflected into the path of Bassani who, a mere yard or two from goal, tried to turn the ball in but Baek made himself big.

After two minutes of additional time, the referee blew for half time.


Second half

Aleksandar Paločević was brought on for the second half for the hosts, as too Ji Dong-won with Iljutcenko and Go Yo-han making way. Caretaker manager Kim Jin-kyu not wasting any time in trying to influence this game. Seoul started the brightest in the second half with Paločević and Ji linking up well and Han Seung-gyu looking fired up.

On 53 minutes, Suwon made their first substitution with Son Ho-jun coming off for Park Dae-won which shifted Kim Tae-hwan to right back with Park slotting in on the left.

Two changes that we expected to see were made not too long later in terms of who was being introduced - on 64 minutes Fejsal Mulić and Kim Ju-chan came on for Acosty and Werik Popó.

The goal came very shortly after, so soon after in fact that Werik Popó and Acosty hadn't put their long padded jackets on yet and sat down, meaning they were unimpeded when joining in the celebrations.

It was a nice exchange of passes between Ko Seung-beum, An Byong-jun and Bassani with the latter making a bee-line towards goal and finding the bottom corner. It was out of character from Suwon in a sense because no one thought to just pick the ball up from deep, centrally and drive towards Seoul's backline. The finish was inch-perfect into the inside of the side netting, leaving the sprawling goalkeeper no chance, while the celebrations will live long in the memory. Cue absolute pandemonium in the away end. 

Suwon came alive and on 68 minutes, Mulić could have made it 2-0 but he was unable to make great contact with a Bassani ball across, allowing Baek Jong-beom to save. Bassani was hogging the right touchline and Seoul didn't know what to do with him. His ball into Mulić with the outside of his left foot couldn't have been any better but Mulić, trying to sidefoot it first time past Baek Jong-beom, really ought to have scored.

With Seoul trying to push for an equaliser the game opened up which allowed Suwon to stretch their legs on the counter. 

Seoul were then reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute with captain Osmar Ibáñez being shown a straight red. The Spaniard was adjudged to have left a bit on Kim Ju-chan when trying to tackle from behind. Osmar will now miss the trip to Daejeon.

Things started to boil over a bit. In the second minute of nine added on, Jeon Jin-woo fouled Ki Sung-yeung to give away a free kick but Ki reacted, sparking a mass brawl in front of the FC Seoul dugout. Ki was shown a yellow card and, like Osmar, will miss the trip to Daejeon but both sets of substitutes and coaches got involved in a mass brawl with Park Soo-il and Ko Seung-beom seemingly not happy with each other. A second red card for Seoul followed but was given to one of the coaches - fitness coach Jung Hoon-ki.

There was a bit of a frantic end to the match with Mulić missing another glorious opportunity in the 104th minute. It actually began with an FC Seoul corner which had seen the goalkeeper sent forward to try and salvage something from this match.  

The ball had made its way back to Park Soo-il on the halfway line but his pass into Kang Seong-jin on the right flank was cut out by Kim Ju-chan, who fed Jeon Jin-woo who cleverly slid the ball into Mulić who had the time to take a touch with his right before shooting with his left but the ball went millimetres wide.

Eventually, in the 105th minute, the referee blew for full time and Suwon Bluewings had their win - their first Super Match win of 2023 and their second win on the spin. Avoiding automatic promotion will go down to the final day, a showdown at Big Bird against Gangwon FC.

For FC Seoul it was a peculiar performance. Iljutcenko being hooked at half time says more about Kim Jin-kyu than it does about the former Pohang and Jeonbuk striker. Seoul looked frustrated, Ki's booking and petulance seemed to sum that up. They did okay in spells but never really looked like scoring and that is perhaps a microcosm of their 2023 season. They head to Daejeon next week for as dead of a dead rubber as there's likely to be. 


FC Seoul: 1 Baek Jong-beom, 96 Park Soo-il, 22 Lee Si-young, 30 Kim Ju-sung, 5 Osmar Ibáñez (c), 6 Ki Sung-yueng, 66 Han Seung-gyu (Kang Seong-jin 84'), 13 Go Yo-han (Paločević 46'), 94 Willyan Barbosa (Bjørn Johnsen 84'), 7 Na Sang-ho, 90 Stanislav Iljutcenko (Ji Dong-won 46')

Unused substitutes: 18 Hwang Sung-min, 19 Kim Gyeong-min, 35 Paik Sang-hoon

Suwon Bluewings: 21 Yang Hyung-mo, 11 Kim Tae-hwan, 77 Son Ho-jun (Park Dae-won 54'), 66 Kim Ju-won, 5 Han Ho-kang, 18 Maxwell Acosty (Kim Ju-chan 64'), 97 Rodrigo Bassani (Jeon Jin-woo 78'), 16 Lee Jong-sung, 7 Ko Seung-beom, 9 An Byong-jin (Lee Sang-min 78'), 45 Werik Popó (Fejsal Mulić 64')

Unused substitutes: 99 An Chan-gi, 6 Han Seok-jong

Attendance: 36,007

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