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Clinical Suwon go top after battling win in Anyang

Suwon are top of the table for the first time this weekend after a clinical display in the original clasico. Despite a fierce late response, Anyang suffered their first loss of the season but the quality of their overall performance should still give encouragement to their players and fans. However, the day is all about Suwon and their tremendous away support.

FC Anyang 1 (Kim Woon 90'+5)
Suwon Samsung 3 (Kim Ju-chan 19', Kim Hyun 42', and Fejsal Mulic 90')

The opening exchanges of this top-of-the-table clash were completely overshadowed by the brilliant noise and color inside this heaving old ground. The purple-clad Anyang fans violently shuck the temporary stand behind the goals, in expectation of a famous victory over a one-time foe. Across the pitch, blue, red, and white balloons and flags clashed wonderfully with the lush green nature behind.

After near continuous domination of the ball and territory, Anyang began to fashion half chances on the quarter hour. The lethal attacking triangle of Danrlei, Matheus, and Yago all went close, with Suwon captain Yang Hyeong-mo forced into making a couple of good saves. The first goal was coming but, as is often the case, it went against the run of play.

After barely touching the ball, Suwon took the lead on 19 minutes. Kim Ju-chan stabbed home from the edge of the box for his first goal of the season. The 20-year-old attacker showed great instincts to latch onto a hopeful through ball by Kim Hyun. In truth, the concession was partially down to indecision in the Anyang rearguard that was cruelly punished by Kim.


It was Suwon’s first effort on goal in the opening 20 minutes. Funny how the run of a game can change just like that. Within a minute of the restart, Kozuka saw his shot blocked and the Bluewings had their first corner. Kim Hyun, who had won the starting duel with Fejsal Mulic, almost got on the end of a wicked cross from the right to double Suwon’s lead. His time was coming, though.

The prolific Kim Hyun celebrates Suwon's second.
Brazilian forward Matheus was the most likely to craft a response for the home team.  Always looking to get the ball onto his left foot, the number 7 saw two pile drivers saved by Yang in the Suwon goal. 10 minutes before the break, Matheus’ low free kick was spilled by Yang but much to the frustration of those in Anyang Stadium, none of the home players capitalized. 

Just before the break, Suwon doubled their lead. The goal was finished by Kim Hyun but it was all down to the perseverance, strength, and determination of Son Suk-yong. Son chased down Kim Sang-jun’s ball into the corner and wrestled his way past several Anyang opponents before teeing up Kim Hyun for a simple finish. Anyang protested vociferously but in reality, they simply lost out to a player who wanted it more.

As the final minutes slowly ticked by, it was Anyang who desperately wanted the half to end, despite a very promising opening for the Violets. 

The second half began much like the first. Anyang in the driving seat with Yago being the primary creative force. But despite the increase in tempo, and former North Korean midfielder Ri Yong-jik driving the home team forward, it was Suwon who had the best chance of the second period. Kim Ju-chan should have ended the contest on 53 minutes when played one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Kim Da-sol did well to block Kim’s left-footed effort and Anyang survived.

A game worthy of the top flight.
Like any good derby, it was getting heated off the pitch, too. Two members of the home dugout, including manager Yoo Byeong-hoon, were yellow-carded for their protests. Suwon made their first change of the game, replacing Son for Yoo Je-ho. Yeom Ki-hun was looking for more solidity in central midfield but as Anyang went in search of a response, gaps were beginning to open everywhere.

With 25 minutes left, Kim Hyun’s game was over. The big number 7, who now has four league goals for the season, made way for Fejsal Mulic. After a very impressive start to the season, it feels like Mulic is a man with a point to prove to Yeom. However, he would later confirm that the manager is handing out starts to most players, so his time will come again. Kozuka also made way, this time for Lee Sang-min. Fresh legs needed even if the Japanese midfielder had another fine game in midfield.

If there was any player on the home team who didn’t deserve to lose, it was the recent recruit. Ri Yong-sik has played international football for North Korea and J.League football in the country of his birth. He looked a level above most of the players here, covering every blade of grass in attack and defense, but also making some key interceptions. Ri is basically a manager on the pitch, pointing where the ball should be played and who should be picking up what opponent. 

Unfortunately for Ri and his teammates, despite the substitution changes, the game was drifting away from them. Anyang had close to 70% possession in the second half but apart from a 40-yard Ri drive, Yang in goal was enjoying a largely stress-free half. Anyang were running out of ideas and this was noticeable in the crowd. 

Mulic finally had his big chance on 90 minutes. Despite missing a good opportunity from a similar angle three minutes earlier, the big man made no mistake the second time. He cooly slotted home from the edge of the box with his right peg after a crisp Suwon counterattack to make it 3-0. He picked up a yellow card for his shirts-off celebration, but likely won't care too much.

As the home fans made their way to the exits, and the away fans engaged in the Poznan, Anyang grabbed the consolation they thoroughly deserved. Matheus' free kick was, for the second time, spilled by Yang but this time Kim Woon punished the goalkeeper. There were still five minutes to play and Anyang smelled blood. They almost grabbed a second a minute later for their raucous support.

The final whistle was greeted by an enormous roar in the away end. Suwon are top and looking formidable. That's four wins on the trot with a home game (yep, on Sunday) against Gyeongnam next weekend.

Reaction

Fejsal Mulic came out of a happy changing room to speak to K League United after the game. Far from being disappointed with a spot on the bench, Mulic praised manager Yeom Ki-hun for keeping the players on their toes and making several changes from game to game. "We are one big family," he concluded, before admitting his time to start again will come sooner rather than later.

Line ups


FC Anyang: 

(31) Kim Da-seol; (4) Lee Chang-yong, (6) Park Jong-hyeon, (22) Kim Dong-jin, (99) Joo Hyun-woo; (10) Yago, (8) Kim Jung-hyun, (37) Ri Yong-jik, (71) Chae Hyun-woo; (7) Matheus, (9) Danrlei.

Substitutes: (41) Kim Sun-dong, (25) Kim Ha-jun (14) Hong Chang-beom, (16) Choi Gyu-hyeon, (19) Kim Woon, (32) Lee Tae-hee, (77) Chae Seong.

Suwon Samsung: 

(21) Yang Hyeong-mo; (33) Park Dae-won, (30) Baek Dong-gyu, (20) Jo Yoon-sung, (27) Lee Si-young; (14) Kozuka Kazuki, (22) Kim Sang-jun, (11) Aboubacar; (99) Son Su-kyung, (7) Kim Hyun, (37) Kim Ju-chan.

Substitutes: (1) Cho Sang-hoon, (3) Jang Ho-ik, (23) Lee Ki-jae, (6) Yoo Je-ho, (9) Fejsal Mulic, (25) Choi Sung-geun, (29) Lee Sang-min.

The fans


The atmosphere was fantastic and unlike some other games at this level, both sets of supporters were responsible for creating a top-class atmosphere that would not be out of place in the top division. The match was sold out but due to the unique nature of Anyang Stadium, several hundred home fans would have had their view of the pitch obstructed by the temporary stands. 

Suwon’s supporters enjoyed their Sunday behind the goals. Unsurprisingly, their section sold out immediately and they passed the warm afternoon by going through their usual playlist of songs and chants. The umbrella display at the beginning of the second half is always a cool feature.

Up next

Both clubs are back in action next Sunday, April 28th, at 2pm. Suwon's fans must have forgotten what a Saturday kick-off feels like. This is their 8th (of 8) weekend game on Sunday (the only reprieve being the midweek demolition of Jeonnam Dragons). It'll be round 11 before Suwon play on a Saturday, and that starts at 7 pm. But next week, the Bluewings return to Big Bird to face Gyeongnam FC in the first league meeting between these two clubs since October 2019.

Anyang, meanwhile, make the long trip south to face Jeonnam Dragons in Gwangyang. The Violets had a great record against the Dragons in 2023, winning all three fixtures, by an aggregate score of 6-1. The next installment of the Original Clasico is on Monday, August 12th, in round 26, when Anyang visit the Bluewings.

Suwon players celebrate a massive three points with their fans.

Best player: Kim Ju-chan
Attendance: 12,323

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