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FC Seoul 2-0 Gangwon FC Recap: Lingard scores first goal in K League; have FC Seoul turned a corner?

Have FC Seoul turned a corner? It's a question that has been asked about the capital side probably since 2017. Under Hwang Sun-hong, Choi Yong-soo, An Ik-soo, and the caretakers in between, Seoul have teased promise, they've drawn you in to make you believe that they might be starting to get their act together. 

Take the 5-1 win over Gimcheon in Round 5. Few saw that result coming. Few also saw what followed with FC Seoul then going on a run of one win in seven and then another run of one win in seven thereafter prior to the 3-0 victory over Suwon FC.

The visit of high-flying Gangwon, then, was a good opportunity for Kim Gi-dong and his men to show the Sangam faithful that they are indeed back on track or at least thinking about 'mirror, signal, maneuver' before turning the corner. 

A win over Gangnwon was sealed thanks to Jesse Lingard's first goal in K League, a thunderous second-half penalty that was awarded thanks to more brilliant wing-back play for Choi Jun. 

Ryu Jae-moon - another winter recruit but one that is perhaps more understated than Lingard - also got off the mark for the club. The former Daegu and Jeonbuk central midfielder nodded home a Han Seung-gyu cross in the second half to put the gloss on a good home performance. It was a performance that suggested that Kim Gi-dong is getting things right finally; that Seoul are turning a corner.

But what would constitute 'turning a corner'? Seoul's best run this season was five unbeaten with two wins and three draws stretching from Round 2 to 7. They'd have to better that or pick up more points. Heading into this Round 19 clash against Gangwon, Seoul were only two unbeaten with four points from six. But the performance against Suwon FC, the 3-0 victory at the weekend, was the first time they'd scored more than two and kept a cleansheet. Another performance of that ilk and win would certainly indicate that they are on the right road.

Only one chance was made to that starting XI by Kim Gi-dong. Jesse Lingard, skippering the side for the third game in a row, was again deployed as a second striker. This time, though, he wasn't shadowing Stanislav Iljutcenko, instead it was Kang Seong-jin. Kang playing as a striker is an interesting move by Kim Gi-dong but in his system, with two attacking full backs in Kang Sang-woo and Choi Jun, Kang's skillset may well be better placed to be more central. He's a good finisher and is composed in the box.

With Ki Sung-yeung still absent through injury, Lee Seung-mo and Ryu Jae-moon were in central midfield. Willyan was handed a rare start, despite the Brazilian making an impact nearly every time he plays. Han Seung-gyu kept his place at right wing and the back four picks itself due to Seoul's apparent lack of options in that department.

First Half

All was going well, then, when Park Seong-hoon scored on 31 minutes to make it 1-0. His second goal as a professional and second in as many matches. The 21-year-old pounced on Kwon Wan-kyu's knockdown to bury the ball in the back of the net. 

Well, it was until referee Kim Yong-woo went to check VAR for a possible foul by Kwon on Gangwon goalkeeper Lee Gwang-yeon. Goal chalked off. But Seoul had found a rhythm and had been the better side. A foundation to build on.

Just before half-time, Seoul thought they should have had a penalty when Han Seung-gyu went down in the box, back to goal following pressure from Kim Young-bin but the referee didn't seem to agree, even after a VAR check.

Corner not turned yet, but there were still 45 minutes to go and Seoul's first-half display at been encouraging.


Second Half

Seoul began the second half in a similar manner to how they ended the first, and on 56 minutes they got their just rewards. Choi Jun's clever run into the box caught Son Jun-seok off guard, forcing the Gangwon left back to desperately grab a fistful of Choi's shirt and concede a penalty.


Up stepped Jesse Lingard to hammer into ball into the corner for his first goal in K League. Seoul 1-0 up, and as things stood in this very tightly contested middle section of the table, were up to sixth.

What will have been most assuring about FC Seoul, even after the first-half setbacks and after going 1-0 up, is that they looked confident and purposeful going forward.


A second goal came, Han Seung-gyu with a teasing cross into the box from a short corner was nodded in by Ryu Jae-moon for his first goal for FC Seoul. Seoul were now two goals to the good with 2-0 with little over 15 minutes left to play. 

Lingard thought he'd found his second goal with a lovely curling finish from just inside the box but it was ruled out for offside. 

There were other positives, too. Cho Young-wook came off the bench to mark his comeback from injury. Seoul's vice-captain hadn't appeared since the 3-1 loss to Daejeon in April. Ronaldo (not that one) came on too for a very late cameo to make his FC Seoul debut. 

But at this point the win was already sealed, Seoul's second in as many matches to extend their mini-unbeaten run to three. Corner turned, or at least with Kim Gi-dong at the wheel, Seoul are indicating that they are.

Up next for FC Seoul is a trip to Jeonju to take on the league's basement side, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Seoul are still looking for a first win over the Green Warriors since July 2017 and now might be their best chance yet to earn that long-awaited win. 

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