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Things We Learned After the Weekend: Three Takeaways

The top two fought to a draw in Ulsan over the weekend, while Suwon FC won the latest edition of the Suwon Derby.  The top three look to be cemented for the moment, but the coming weekend could add some clarity to the picture.  In K League 2, Gwangju FC look ever more probable to lock up automatic promotion after a win over Chungnam Asan, with the gap at the top in double digits.  KLU's Branko Belan reviews the key points from the weekend. 

Top Two Share the Spoils

In yet another chapter of this storied rivalry, a lot was on the line heading into the match with Jeonbuk looking to close the gap on first place.  Things did not get off to a good start, however, as the league leaders nudged in front after just eight minutes through Eom Won-sang, who finished off a spectacular slaloming run through the defense before cooly slotting the ball into the top corner past Song Bum-keun.  Gustavo could have brought things level from the penalty spot five minutes before the interval, but he was denied as Jo Hyeon-woo got down well to his left to palm the ball away.  Jeonbuk would continue to pile on the pressure, but several chances went begging, and Ulsan took a slim lead into the break.

Jeonbuk would pull level just before the hour mark through Modou Barrow, who collected a long ball from Maeng Seong-ung on the left flank, and made use of a great first touch to get around Kim Tae-hwan before his effort on goal was deflected in by Kim Kee-hee.  The hosts would carry the play for the remainder of the contest, but neither side would be able to score again and both would have to split the points at the final whistle, in what was a very physical battle, with the teams accounting for eight yellow cards on the night, six for Ulsan.  The Horangi are next at home against Daegu FC this coming weekend, while Jeonbuk face a pair of road matches, as they make up their Round 24 fixture against Suwon FC on Wednesday night before travelling to Incheon on Saturday evening.

Suwon FC Relish Derby Success

Suwon FC moved into the top six with their derby win.
The latest edition of the Suwon Derby did not disappoint as there were six goals in total, with Suwon FC coming away 4-2 winners on the night, moving them into the top half of the league.  It was also their sixth win at home this season, putting them over the .500 mark on their home patch in 2022.  A double from Kim Hyun and second half strikes from Jung Jae-yong and Lars Veldwijk secured their second win in a row over their rivals this season, having outscored them 7-2 in those matches after Bluewings had won the first encounter between them at the beginning of the season by just a single goal.

Kim Hyun headed home Park Min-kyu's first time cross inside the first quarter of an hour after the fullback had made a streaking run down the left side.  An Byong-jun would level the match on 27 minutes, his second goal in a Bluewings shirt, his header taking a deflection before bouncing into the net.  

Things picked up after the break after Jung restored the home side's lead just four minutes into the second half, unleashing a fine strike from outside the area which bounced past Yang Hyung-mo before finding the corner.  It was 3-1 on 69 minutes as Kim scored his second of the match with a beautiful curler from distance after a fine team move.  Ryu Seung-woo offered a flicker of hope to the visitors, pulling the deficit back to a goal with four minutes left in regulation but Veldwijk would salt the match away scoring his fourth of the season.  Suwon FC host Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in midweek before travelling to Gangwon on Independence Day, while Suwon Bluewings are at home against Seongnam FC on Sunday night in a showdown between the bottom sides in the division.

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Gwangju FC Rolling Toward Automatic Promotion

Gwangju FC took another step towards first division football next season with their win on the weekend.
Goals from recent signing Sandro Lima and Mike gave Gwangju FC a 2-0 win over ten-man Chungnam Asan last time out, putting their advantage at the top of K League 2 at a lofty thirteen points with thirteeen rounds remaining.  While that still means there is a lot of football left to be played, their next four matches will be against Ansan Greeners, who have been better of late and should not be taken lightly, Jeonnam Dragons, Seoul E-Land, and Busan IPark before facing Bucheon FC 1995 on August 30th.

With just three losses this campaign, it's obvious that the Yellows have been the pick of the crop in the second division this season, thanks to a combination of well spread out offensive production and a strong defensive record.  Reis has contributed nine goals and added four assists, while youngster Yool Heo, who has made great strides this year, has chipped in six goals and four assists himself.  Eom Ji-sung has also found the net six times, and should be tipped for a move to a bigger club next year, while Mike and Lee Kun-hee have added three each.  Lee Eu-ddeum has been the team's best playmaker with seven assists so far.  Between the sticks, Kim Kyeong-min leads the league with thirteen clean sheets.  

Altogether, it has made for a recipe for success this year, but, to be fair, those were the expectations at the beginning of the season.  However, with the playoff race being as tight as it is between the top four, there is still a chance for points to be taken, so Gwangju will still need to pay close attention down the stretch, in the event that one of the chasing pack may attempt to make a run at them.  Should they take care of business to close out the summer, they could be well clear as the season turns to fall. 

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