Bluewings win FA Cup in dramatic shoot-out

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Bluewings win FA Cup in dramatic shoot-out

Suwon Bluewings won their first FA Cup in seven years yesterday against Seongnam Ilhwa in Seongnam, Gyeonggi and in the process earned a place in next year’s AFC Champions League tourney.

In an otherwise, forgettable season, in which the reigning K-League champs finished 10th overall in league standings, Suwon entered the FA Cup final with the goal of salvaging a cup title.

It wasn’t easy as the two sides played to a dramatic finish.

Dzenan Radoncic scored the opening goal in the 27th minute to put the home team up 1-0, and Seongnam seemed to be headed toward a win on their home field. But Suwon caught a break in the 86th minute when Suwon’s Tiago was dragged down near the goal by Seongnam defender Kim Tae-Yoon. Edu took the penalty shot and scored to level the scores with three minutes remaining.

And the game remained tied at one goal apiece as the two sides could not settle the match in extra time. The game was then determined by penalties with Suwon’s goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae coming to his team’s rescue.

Both sides had scored two gaols apiece when Seongnam’s Kim Yong-dae blocked Tiago’s shot. Lee responded by turning away Kim Sung-hwan’s effort. Lee then blocked the next shot from Kim Sung-hwan and Suwon’s Kim Dae-eui connected to give Suwon a 4-2 win.

The veteran goalkeeper was awarded the tourney’s Most Valuable Player.

With the win, Cha Bum-kun and his team avoided ending the season on a sour note and claimed the FA Cup trophy along with 200 million won ($171,200) in cash. And the team achieved its goal of earning a spot in next year’s AFC Champions League. Having failed to qualify for the K-League postseason, the FA Cup title was the only route to next year’s tourney.

Although Suwon dominated the K-League last season, it got off to a poor start and never seemed to recover as it finished 10th overall with the record of eight wins, eight draws and 12 losses. The biggest reason for the poor performance was probably the loss of Cho Won-hee to Wigan Athletics in the English Premier League and Lee Jung-soo to Kyoto of the J-League.

Suwon managed to advance to the round of 16 in this year’s AFC Champions League tourney but lost to Nagoya. Seongnam still has a shot at earning a spot in next year’s Champions League tourney and the K-League title.

Seongnam will play Incheon United in the first round of playoffs on Nov. 22. The winner of the game will face the winner of the other first round matchup between Seoul FC and Chunnam Dragons on Nov. 21. AFC Champions League winners Pohang Steelers, who finished second overall, and Jeonbuk Motors who finished atop the the league standings this season will play the winners at a later date.

By Jason Kim []
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