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FC Seoul 5-1 Gimcheon Sangmu: Iljutcenko show seals emphatic win

A four-goal haul in the first half - all with some involvement from Stanislav Iljutcenko - at home to Gimcheon Sangmu in Round 5 helped FC Seoul earn their second win of the 2024 Hana Bank K League 1. It was the sort of performance the Sangam faithful had been hoping for and perhaps expecting after the appointment of Kim Gi-dong as manager. 

Stanislav Iljutcenko had a hand in all four of Seoul's first-half goals, teeing up Cho Young-wook 16 minutes in before a quickfire brace with goals on 34 and 39 minutes. In first-half stoppage time, Iljutcenko tried to turn in Lim Sang-hyub's attempt on goal but Lim was credited with the goal, and Iljutcenko an assist having played him in.

The scoreline was made all the more surprising with FC Seoul's first midweek action of the season being the visit of an in-form Gimcheon Sangmu, a side that had put four past a then-unbeaten Suwon FC at the weekend. Seoul, on the other hand, had labored to a 1-1 draw away to Gangwon FC.

It was a night of positives and firsts. The brace from Stanislav Iljutcenko were his first goals from open play this season, as well as firsts in 2024 for Lim Sang-hyub, Cho Young-wook, and Park Dong-jin off the bench. Paločević teeing up Park Dong-jin was also his first assist of the season.

Seoul were purposeful and extremely dangerous when breaking forward. Iljutencko put in his best all-round performance in an FC Seoul shirt, even without the goals and assists as his all-round play was excellent. The Pohang magic with Lim Sang-hyun and Paločević seemed to suddenly return at the right time.

It hadn't done in the first four matches of the season, despite new manager Kim Gi-dong having a handful of his former Pohang players on the books at Seoul. Three of them combined to very nearly open the scoring inside the first couple of minutes - Lim Sang-hyub broke free down the left and played in a floating cross to Iljutcenko whose header kissed the bar. Paločević tried to steer home the follow-up but, despite shouts for handball, Gimcheon cleared their lines. The score remained 0-0 but it was a sign of what was to come. 

The other two former Pohang players were Kang Sang-woo who had slotted in at a more familiar left back position, not as a winger as he had been in previous outings, and Kwon Wan-kyu at centre back to replace the suspended Rebin Sulaka.

Seoul took the lead on 16 minutes through a player who, had it not been for a gold medal in the Asian Games last September, would still be at Gimcheon. Cho Young-wook drilled the ball into the bottom corner after Iljutcenko had shown good centre forward play to take a touch and lay the ball into his path back to goal.

Despite it being Cho's first goal of the season, and first for FC Seoul since 13th September 2022, he didn't celebrate out of respect but the FC Seoul fans certainly did. As too Jesse Lingard who was watching on from a sky box just to the right of the main Seoul support in the stand behind the goal.

It marked a decent start from FC Seoul who had looked more purposeful in possession. Frankly, Seoul had been comfortable. Gimcheon were very efficient at the weekend and made the most of set pieces but they hadn't been able to settle or find a rhythm in the first 22 minutes or so.

It became even more comfortable on 33 minutes when Iljutcenko doubled Seoul's advantage. Persistent pressure from Paločević was to thank with the Serbian attacking midfielder picking the pocket of Kim Bong-soo before finding Lim Sang-hyub who swiveled and played a perfectly weighted ball across the six-yard box for Iljutcenko to turn in his second goal of the campaign but first from open play.

Paločević very nearly made it three but a good save from Kang Hyun-mu meant Seoul had to settle for a corner. 

But soon after Seoul did find a third, a second from Iljutcenko. Ki Sung-yeung suddenly found himself in acres of space down the left and with oceans more to run into. Like a shark smelling blood, Iljutcenko - having nodded the ball into Ki - plotted a course for the far post where he was found by Ki - 3-0. It wasn't an easy finish, though, as Ki had to send the ball out of reach of a flailing Gimcheon backline and Kim Jae-woo had managed to get a toe on the ball, leaving Iljutcenko needing to stretch but he made good contact.

Gimcheon had looked like complete shadows of the side that put four past Suwon FC just four days prior. In truth, much of the first half was spent chasing shadows. Likewise, Seoul looked like a different animal altogether with the sloth-like creatures from Chuncheonn finding a killer instinct.  

That killer instinct led to Seoul finding a fourth before half time. Lim Sang-hyub picked the ball up on the edge of the box before sending it in toward Iljutcenko who appeared to have gotten a touch to guide it through but he immediately pointed to Lim, signaling that it was the veteran winger's goal and not his.

After three minutes of time added on, the referee blew his whistle and brought the first half to a close. Seoul had been excellent, Gimcheon anything but.

Second Half

FC Seoul manager Kim Gi-dong made one change at half time, bringing Willyan on in place of Lim Sang-hyub, despite a goal and an assist in the first 45.

Kim's opposite number Chung Jung-yong, on the other hand, made three changes, including his goalkeeper. Kang Hyun-mu was replaced by Kim Joon-hong, Park Min-kyu was brought on for Kim Tae-hyun, and Kang Hyun-muk replaced Kim Jae-woo.

Gimcheon came close to pulling a goal back in the 48th minute but Choi Cheol-won in the Seoul goal, who'd had very little to do, was alert enough to beat away Kim Min-jun's close-range effort.

A minute later Kim Jin-kyu checked to see if Choi was still awake but had to make do with a corner.

Gimcheon did find a breakthrough eventually. Kim Min-jun with a rocket into the top corner on 52 minutes. It was going to take something spectacular given how few chances Gimcheon had fashioned for themselves so far.

Kim Min-jun had another chance, though, on the hour mark after a clever exchange of passes with Kim Hyeon-wook but his left-footed effort skewed wide.

With Willyan on, and later Kim Gyeong-min, Seoul struggled to find the same levels of intensity as they did in the first half.

Seoul sought to dial it back up a notch, though, and Kim Wan-kyu found himself in the box, bearing down on goal but instead of trying to shoot, he looked to play in Cho Young-wook whose shot cannoned off the back of Iljutcenko.

Another chance fell to Cho shortly after that but Kang Hyun-mu was equal to it.

Even with a dip in intensity levels, there was a feeling around Sangam that another goal from the hosts was coming. Iljutcenko's all-round play had deserved a hat-trick and the former Pohang striker was the most likely to add a fifth.

Paločević, excellent in the first half, a touch quieter in the second but in a deeper number six role, tried to let rip in the half-volley but couldn't time the shot properly and the ball bounced its way through to the Gimcheon goalkeeper.

But with Park Dong-jin coming on to replace him, Iljutcenko would have to wait to seal his first hat-trick since September 2020. Still, a brace and two assists was a decent haul and at least meant even more than a hat-trick of goal contributions for the 33-year-old.

Seoul did find a fifth goal and it was thanks to another incisive breakaway. On 80 minutes, Paločević driving forward centrally spread the ball out wide to Park Dong-jin who took a touch before finding the bottom corner.

Seoul have seldom been as clinical as this in recent seasons and aside from a short spell at the start of the second half, Gimcheon were never really in the game. Seoul move up to fourth and face Daegu away this Sunday, while Gimcheon slip to second and host Gwangju on Saturday.

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Post-match Reaction

Kim Gi-dong:

"The players all knew today's game was an important one. They knew that a win would mean we could compete at the top end of the table so there was more concentration. For myself too, for us to become a strong team, I said that we needed to win tonight but the players were well aware [of what it meant]. It was the first time that we'd had a meeting with the players on the day of a game. In the morning we spoke to the defensive players, then the attacking players in the afternoon, and talked about tactics and strategy. It went perfectly in the first half. Scoring lots of goals at home is going to be good for the atmosphere within the club. We need to try and do more of the same at home."

Stanislav Iljutcenko:

"I think we had a perfect day. Especially the first half was amazing. Everything that we wanted, we did. We scored really fast, 4-0 was very comfortable for us. Second half, I think the first 15 minutes we become a little sleepy and give Gimcheon opportunities. But overall, after this, we start to control and scored the fifth goal and deserve three points. Very important three points for us and we're very happy."

Listen in full: here

Aleksandar Paločević

"Finally, finally, we play some normal game. We have really nice players, really quality players, you know? But in our last four games, we didn't show like this. Our performance, especially the first half,  we were really tough like men, how we have to play. And okay, the second half was a little different,  we changed a little tactic, we changed substitution a little bit and a little go down, but anyway, we controlled the game. This is the way how we have to go."

Listen in full: here

Chung Jung-yong: 

"Our players did their best. Although we conceded a lot of goals, I just want to say to my players, who kept going to the end, to get ready for the next game and perform well. Until the game at the weekend, we have two or three days for us to prepare well. I feel like we were fully opened up today. From a manager's perspective, we need to come up with tactical adjustments so that we can respond as quickly as possible."


FC Seoul: 21 Choi Cheol-won, 15 Kang Sang-woo, 30 Kim Ju-sung, 3 Kwon Wan-kyu, 16 Choi Jun, 29 Ryu Jae-moon (Kim Gyeong-min 61'), 6 Ki Sung-yueng (captain), 26 Aleksandar Paločević, 7 Lim Sang-hyub (Willuan 46'), 32 Cho Young-wook (Kim Jin-ya 88'), 90 Stanislav Iljutcenko (Park Dong-jin 77')

Unused substitutes: 18 Hwang Sung-min, 40 Park Sang-hoon, 55 Takuya Shigehiro, 66 Han Seung-gyu

Gimcheon Sangmu: 31 Kang Hyun-mu (Kim Joon-hong 46'), 8 Yoon Jong-gyu, 10 Kim Jae-woo (Kang Hyun-muk 46'), 25 Park Seung-wook, 3 Kim Hyeon-wook (Jeong Chi-in 57'), 5 Kim Dong-hyun, 77 Kim Tae-hyun (Park Min-gyu 46'), 26 Kim Min-jun, 15 Kim Bong-soo, 4 Kim Jin-kyu, 99 Lee Joong-min (Yu Kang-hyun 83')

Unused substitutes: 2 Koo Bon-cheol, 20 Kim Min-duk, 23 Park Soo-il, 29 Choi Gi-yun

Attendance: 13,040

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