Ulsan extend K League lead as Jeonbuk lose to Incheon
Defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' pursuit of top-placed Ulsan Hyundai in the K League standings took a hit on Saturday as the defending champions lost 3-1 to Incheon United.
Saturday's loss marked the first time that Incheon has beaten Jeonbuk since March, 2018.
The tough loss was an embarrassing one for Jeonbuk, as the North Jeolla club controlled 70 percent of the ball but proved unable to take advantage of that possession.
After Song Min-kyu of Jeonbuk opened the scoring in the 14th minute, Hernandes Rodrigues of Incheon leveled things 15 minutes later.
With Song Si-woo adding a second goal for Incheon four minutes into the second half, Incheon was given a penalty in the 73rd minute. Hernandes headed to the spot and scored Incheon's third goal.
Six minutes later, Kim Bo-kyung of Jeonbuk slotted in what seemed to be Jeonbuk's second goal, but it turned out that there was a handball in the process, nullifying the goal. With neither team able to score anymore, the whistle blew with Incheon taking three points against the defending champions.
Creating chances to shoot was a big problem for Jeonbuk as they scrambled against the Incheon offense, with Incheon frequently penetrating the Jeonbuk side of the field and landing a shot or a shot on target.
Jeonbuk only had eight shots and six on target, while Incheon pounded on Jeonbuk's goal with 17 shots and 14 on target.
The win puts Incheon at No. 4 in the K League standings while Jeonbuk gets to keep the No. 2 spot, six points over Pohang.
The 3-1 loss is a bad sign for Jeonbuk, who are looking for their third-ever title as the AFC Champions League this week. The AFC round of 16 will be played as a K League derby as Jeonbuk is scheduled to face Daegu FC at Urawa Komaba Stadium in Saitama, Japan on Thursday.
Daegu also failed to add three points over the weekend, after being completely shut out 4-0 by Ulsan after a one-sided match on Saturday.
Ulsan held 69 percent of the ball while hammering on the Daegu goal with 20 shots, 15 of which were on target. Hungarian footballer Martin Adams opened the scoring in the 27th minute with his first-ever K League goal, while Jun Amano, Valeri "Vako" Qazaishvili and Leonardo all added goals.
The win allowed Ulsan to extend their lead at the top of the table to six points over Jeonbuk.
Saturday's loss was also the final nail in the coffin for Daegu manager Alexandre Gama, who resigned on Sunday. Gama, who only joined the club this year, voluntarily stepped down following the club's poor performance, according to a statement from Daegu FC. His departure comes at a difficult time, with Choi Won-kwon left to take over as interim manager just days ahead of the Champions League clash.
On Sunday, Jeju United beat the Pohang Steelers 5-0 while the Suwon Samsung Bluewings beat Seongnam FC 4-1. On Monday, Suwon FC beat Gangwon FC 3-2 and FC Seoul beat Gimcheon 2-1.
The K League resumes Saturday.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]
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