In a moment of crisis, ‘Jeonbuk DNA’ came to life. Jeonbuk Hyundai kept their hopes of qualifying for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Elite (ACLE) alive.
Jeonbuk Hyundai defeated Gwangju FC 2-0 in the 37th round of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 at Jeonju World Cup Stadium at 2 p.m. on Friday.
With the win, Jeonbuk regained fourth place with 57 points (16 wins, 9 draws, and 12 losses). They are now just one point behind third-place Gwangju (58 points). The standings of both teams will not be known until the final 38 rounds are completed.
The home team Jeonbuk started with a 4-3-3 formation. Song Min-gyu, Park Jae-yong, Lee Dong-joon, Baek Seung-ho, Park Jin-seop, Amano Jun, Kim Jin-soo, Hong Jeong-ho, Jung Tae-wook, Ahn Hyun-beom, and Kim Jung-hoon made up the starting lineup.
Gwangju lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. Ofusung-I-Keon-hee, Um Ji-sung-I-Kang-hyun-Jung Ho-yeon-Thomas, Doo Hyun-seok-Ahn Young-gyu-Gim Seung-woo-Sang-gi, and Kim Kyung-min started.
It was a must-win game for Jeonbuk. They needed to beat Gwangju in this match to keep their hopes of a comeback and third place alive. If they lost or drew, they would have been in danger of allowing fifth-place Incheon (55 points) to pull off a last-minute upset.토토사이트
Only one place separates third and fourth, but it’s the difference between heaven and earth. The third-place finisher will qualify for the ACLE playoffs, while the fourth-place finisher will qualify for the AFC Champions League (ACL2) instead of the ACLE. This is because Pohang, currently in second place, won the FA Cup and took one of the ACLE spots.
For Jeonbuk, who have been out of the competition for 10 years, the ACL is the last straw. Naturally, it’s hard to be satisfied with ACL2. Before the game, head coach Dan Petrescu said, “This is our last chance to finish the season in the top three.”
A cliffhanger that could not be tied. Jeonbuk DNA shone through. Jeonbuk scored the first goal with high concentration despite the unfavorable conditions.
In the 18th minute, Lee Dong-joon’s header from inside the box hit the crossbar. Song Min-kyu didn’t miss it and put his head to it again, and the ball bounced off the ground and Ahn Hyun-beom headed it in to rattle the net.
Gwangju’s counterattack was no slouch either. Gwangju took advantage of their chances with quick counterattacks and organized attacks using their left and right fullbacks. All 10 players, except for the goalkeeper, even crossed the center line.
However, Jeonbuk fought back fiercely by applying strong forward pressure, which was exactly what Coach Petrescu ordered: ‘Press harder and more aggressively than usual’. In addition, ‘National Team’ Park Jin-seop and goalkeeper Kim Jung-hoon made great tackles and saves to prevent the crisis.
The second goal also belonged to Jeonbuk. In the second minute of extra time, the ball hit the head of the Gwangju defense and bounced back. Song Min-kyu, who was in front of the goal, tried to shoot it, but he missed, and the ball hit his stepping left foot and headed into the goal. It looked like Kim Kyung-min had flung himself out of the way and cleared it with his hands, but after video review, it was recognized as a goal.
In the end, Jeonbuk didn’t concede until the end and defended their two goals well to finish the match with a 2-0 victory. They also improved their record against Gwangju to 4-1-1 this season, continuing their dominance against the ‘Jung Hyo-bol’.
Jeonbuk’s next opponent is Ulsan, the defending champions’ arch-rivals. Jeonbuk will play their final match of the season against Ulsan at the Ulsan Munsu Soccer Stadium on March 3. This is the final game that will decide the fate of the ACLE tickets.
A third-place finish is still possible. Jeonbuk must first catch Ulsan and then wait for the results of the Gwangju and Pohang matches. As long as Pohang doesn’t lose to Gwangju, Jeonbuk has a chance.