Jeonbuk’s lead at top shrinks after unusual loss in K League
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors saw their lead at the top of the K League 1 table shrink to simply one point over the weekend, following a combination of their unusual loss and a success by their biggest rival club.
Jeonbuk was up to Sangju Sangmu 1-0 on Sunday, with Kang Sang-woo transforming a 75th-minute charge to hand Jeonbuk only their second loss of the season. It was Jeonbuk’s first “L” since May 30, when they dropped to Gangwon FC, likewise by the score of 1-0, and they stayed at 24 points.
A day earlier, second-place Ulsan Hyundai FC routed last-place Incheon United 4-1 behind Junior Negrao’s hat technique, moving to 23 points, just one behind Jeonbuk. Ulsan had actually fallen back by four points after losing to Jeonbuk on June 28 but bounced right back to keep the title race interesting.
Ulsan were largely expected to beat Incheon, who still haven’t won a match this season. That indicated Jeonbuk needed to beat Sangju to stay 4 points ahead, and they were the favorites, having won their last five matches and not having actually lost to Sangju since September 2017.
However Sangju, a group made up of conscripted players serving their mandatory military duty, had actually won 3 straight matches of their own before Sunday, and they captured some lucky breaks to pull out the victory.
Sangju dodged a bullet early in the 2nd half, when Lee Dong-gook rang his penalty off the crossbar and Han Kyo-won missed the web on a rebound.
Kang converted his in the 75th, after getting tripped up by Hong Jeong-ho inside package. An offside call erased a Jeonbuk goal by Cho Gue-sung in the 81st, and Sangju hung on for their fourth successive 1-0 victory.
Sangju, the biggest overachievers in the league this season, remained in 3rd location with 20 points, one ahead of Daegu FC and Pohang Steelers.
Both Daegu and Pohang enjoyed huge wins on Sunday to keep up.
Pohang pounded Seongnam FC 4-0, led by Tune Min-kyu’s brace. Seongnam, who opened the season on a four-match undefeated run, have not won considering that May 31 and nose-dived to 11th on the table.
Daegu beat Gwangju FC 4-2, with Gwangju’s 1-0 lead vanishing on the vapor tracks of three unanswered Daegu objectives in a five-minute span early in the second half. Dejan Damjanovic had 2 of those three objectives.
On Saturday, FC Seoul and Suwon Samsung Bluewings ended in a 3-3 draw in their “Super Match” derby. They remained in ninth and 10th places, with much of the shine gone from their once-popular derby.
Busan IPark quietly jumped to 6th location following a 4-2 success over Gangwon FC. These two clubs are tied at 11 points, however Busan are ahead in the second tiebreaker, objective difference.
However Busan are 8 points back of Pohang for 5th, and only 2 points better than Seongnam for 11th. With many clubs bunched up in the lower half of the table, their positions can alter in a hurry.
The teams integrated for 28 goals over the weekend, a record under the existing 12-club format in a single weekend of play.
The previous record had actually been 26 objectives, set in 2016 and matched two years later on.
Likewise, the 17 goals from 3 matches on Saturday were a season high for one day, surpassing 12 goals from 4 matches on June 13. (Yonhap).