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K League 2 Final Day: Gimcheon win promotion, Gyeongnam & Bucheon book playoff berths

Gimcheon Sangmu seal an instant return to K League 1 following a 1-0 win over Seoul E-Land and Busan IPark's home draw with Chungbuk Cheongju. Busan thought they'd done it when Fessin broke the deadlock on 70 minutes but a Jorge Luiz strike deep into injury time meant the spoils were shared and Gimcheon win the title. In the playoff race, it is as was heading into Round 39 with Gyeongnam FC and Bucheon FC 1995 earning wins to seal their spots.
A dramatic final day in K League 2 which saw plenty of twists and turns and definitely some late drama - a blow-by-blow account of the key races.

K League 2 title & automatic promotion


Gimcheon Sangmu are champions of K League 2 and seal an instant return to the top flight, despite starting the day in second place. The army side did what they had to do and that was to beat Seoul E-Land at home - Kim Hyun-wook got the game's only goal on 38 minutes proved vital.

But with no goals scored in over 30 minutes in Gimcheon and Busan, the top two remained the same; Busan were going to be champions as things stood. Busan, who had their fate in their own hands heading into Round 39, could have taken the lead on 35 minutes with Bruno Lamas somehow blazing over from two yards out after Kim Chan's initial header was saved. But almost as soon as this happened, Gimcheon took the lead through Kim Hyun-wook which moved them above Busan and into first by a point. As things stood, Gimcheon would be champions. 


At half time, Busan and Chungbuk Cheongju were level while Gimcheon were 1-0 up at home to Seoul E-Land. A big second half beckoned for Busan. Busan eventually did break the deadlock on 70 minutes with Fessin scoring his seventh of the season and first in two months to take the south coast side back to the top of the table. Gimcheon's match ended first meaning it was out of their hands and, from a Busan perspective, down to Park Jin-sub's side to hold their nerve and hang on. 


This is how it appeared the season would end but in the 95th minute, Chungbuk Cheongju's Jorge Luiz fired in an equaliser to see the spoils shared. A stunned Busan then slipped to second and Gimcheon were crowned champions. Busan will face 11th in K League 1 in a two-leg playoff.
          
How the K League 2 top 8 looked at half time


Playoff spots


There were plenty of twists and turns in the race for the top five, too. Jeonnam drew first blood, going 1-0 up away to Bucheon thanks to a Valdivia spot kick on 22 minutes. This, coupled with Gyeongnam still being level at 0-0 with Gimpo, moved the Dragons up to fourth. Anyang were doing their bit by beating Cheonan City but were waiting for something to happen in Gimpo as a goal from the team led by their former manager Ko Jeong-woon would move them into fifth.

Bucheon had slipped out of the top five altogether into seventh while Gyeongnam were hanging on by the skin of their teeth, level at 0-0 with Gimpo. But Bucheon fought back, making it 1-1 on 38 minutes via a Nilson Junior penalty. This returned Bucheon to the playoff places, sitting fifth with the Dragons slipping to seventh.


Gyeongnam, only needing a draw, found a way through on 66 minutes via Park Min-seo, a vital goal that would mean the Roses' place in the playoffs was beyond doubt. Soon after there was another goal in Bucheon; Asian Games gold-winning striker An Jae-jun turned the game on its head and put Bucheon in front with a goal on 61 minutes. Jeonnam had a mountain to climb, even more so when An scored his second and third goals on 78 and 90 minutes to make it 4-1 to Bucheon - quite the collapse from the Dragons who had played spoiler the week before, beating Busan 3-0. Full time was blown in Gimpo were Gyeongnam had won 1-0 then shortly after in Bucheon, the referee blew for full time there. Gyeongnam and Bucheon end the season on a high before they play each other in the semifinals.

The playoffs get underway on Wednesday 29th November when Gyeongnam FC will host Bucheon FC 1995. It's a rematch from 2022 only with roles reversed as this time Gyeongnam only need a draw to go through and face Gimpo FC on Saturday 2nd December. Whoever makes it through will then face 10th in K League 1.

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K League 2 final standings

Via K League




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