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Daejeon Hana Citizen twice surrender two-goal lead to Suwon FC for first loss of 2023

Daejeon Hana Citizen twice surrender a two-goal lead away to Suwon FC to suffer their first loss of the 2023 season. The Purples lost 5-3 despite holding a 2-0 half-time lead and a 3-1 lead with an hour played. Lee Min-sung's men now top the table for goals scored and conceded with no fewer than 25 goals scored in Daejeon games this season.

What happened?

On Easter Sunday in Suwon, Citizen sacrificed their lead not once but twice to allow Suwon FC's resurrection from a two-match winless run. Daejeon got off to the perfect start to their Hana 1Q K League 1 Round 6 clash away to the Castle Park side, with Lee Hyun-sik curling into the top corner in spectacular fashion with just five minutes on the clock.

Daejeon were two goals to the good on 39 minutes after Tiago Orobó was sent through by Lee Jin-hyun to round the goalkeeper. A Lee Yong screamer on 56 minutes, with what was his first goal in seven years, got Suwon back into proceedings but Daejeon were able to restore their two-goal cushion just five minutes later with Tiago steering in his second of the afternoon after compatriot Leandro had shown good composure to find him in the box.

But Suwon FC came bac from the dead with a brace from Lars Veldwijk followed by late strikes from Yoon Bit-garam and Murilo in the last nine minutes in scenes that Daejeon fans might have thought were flashbacks to the 2021 playoff final away to Gangwon.

Daejeon had to play the last 14 minutes plus stoppage time with 10 men after defender Anton Kryvotsyuk was sent off on 76 minutes. The Azerbaijan international was the last man back when he tugged at Lars Veldwijk's shirt, leaving the referee with little option other than show him a straight red card.

What went wrong?

The short answer would be that Daejeon lost all composure in the second half and their performance in the last 30 minutes bordered on unprofessional. The Suwon comeback truly began when Lars Veldwijk fired in from distance with what was his first goal of the campaign. The former Jeonbuk striker had the time and space to take a touch and shoot from outside the box and while there will be question marks over the defending, the goalkeeper was beaten far too easily. Lee Chang-geun was left rooted to the spot in Round 5 too when FC Seoul's Na Sang-ho struck from outside the box to make it 2-2. After making a string of impressive saves through out the opening 55 minutes or so, Daejeon fans might be disappointed to see their goalkeeper beaten so easily from outside the box yet again. Lee line of sight wasn't blocked, merely he was caught flat-footed not expecting the shot.

There were some uncharacteristic errors from Daejeon's defenders including the usually infallible Cho Yu-min who awkwardly handballed a cross in the box to gift Suwon a spot kick. Yoon Bit-garam's cross from the left met the upper arm of Cho seemed unable to get his body position right and heads the ball onto his own outstretched arm. Cho, who began his career with Suwon FC, has been in fine form for Daejeon this season but will be annoyed with himself for this error. 

The score is now 3-3 and by now Daejeon have lost all composure. Lars is running riot and a lapse in communication between Cho Yu-min and Anton sees the former Jeonbuk man bearing down on goal, forcing the latter to make a desperate grab of the shirt. He's last man back and denied Lars a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Daejeon get away with the resulting free kick as the initial strike hits the post, falls to Lee Gwang-hyeok who steers wide.

The comeback is complete with Daejeon being hit down the right (their left) and Yoon Bit-garam is unmarked in the box. Despite Daejeon having five men back, no one spots Yoon until it's too late and the 2020 ACL MVP is free to nod home. Kim Min-duk was the only one of the five Daejeon defenders who had the nous to look over his shoulder but by the time he had realised Yoon was free, he had to try and get in front of Lars when the cross came in. 

The fifth goal was a calamity. Kim Min-duk tries to clear on the line but instead hooks the ball back into the six-yard box, forcing the 'keeper to try to come off his line, leaving Murilo with an empty need to fire into. Positioning seemed to go out of the window for the last two goals and Daejeon were at sixes and sevens.

Were there any positives?

Despite the manner of the defeat, there were enough positives for Lee Min-sung to cling to as he prepares his team for the next few matches. His team were very good in the first half and looked largely in control of the game. They were also very dangerous on the counterattack and showed that they need just two or three touches to go from back to front and score. The second goal, for example, stemmed from an Anton interception, Lee Jin-hyun picking up the loose ball before sending a first-time pass into the channel for Tiago who then showed great composure to guide the ball in from an acute angle.

Tiago being back on the scoresheet was itself a major plus. He works very hard and might have felt like he wasn't getting his just rewards in other matches but two goals today show how dangerous he is at this level with four goals for the campaign but first since Round 2. There was also yet another assist from Lee Jin-hyun who now has five for the season and six goal contributions in six games.

Leandro, too, will be pleased with his assist while Lee Hyun-sik's stunning opener was his first goal since June last year. Young winger Jeon Byeong-kwan put in another solid display and came very close to making it 3-0 on 49 minutes but his shot ricocheted off the bar and went over. Jeon may be in the team because of the U22 rule but he isn't a liability and does not need to be hauled off after 13 minutes. Daejeon are doing well to give him enough exposure to first-team football without overwhelming him. His performance today shows that he is another genuine U22 option for Lee Min-sung alongside Bae Jun-ho.


What happens next?

Daejeon only have to wait until Wednesday before they can try to put Sunday's loss behind them as K4 side Goeje Citizen are in town for the third round of the FA Cup. Citizen boss Lee Min-sung will most likely field some of the players who haven't had much game time yet this term but for those who do play, it will be an opportunity to help restore the positive atmosphere in and around the dressing room.

The defeat will bring Daejeon back down to earth. The honeymoon period is over and the defeat will serve as an opportunity to learn about the harsh nature of top-flight football. It may also give Lee Min-sung something to think about team selection and tactics wise as he will need to find ways to shut up shop when his team are on top. Next up in league play is champions and table-topping Ulsan Hyundai at home next weekend.


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