Jeonbuk wins first league title

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Jeonbuk wins first league title

It took 15 years but the Jeonbuk Motors won their first league title in the team’s history yesterday.

Jeonbuk, which had the best record in the regular season this year, claimed the title in the K-League Championship finals.

Coming off a scoreless draw in the first-leg match at the Seongnam Sports Complex in Gyeonggi on Wednesday night, Jeonbuk notched two goals in the first half to pull away from their opponent en route to a 3-1 win over Seongnam in the second leg yesterday at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium in North Jeolla.

The Jeonju-based club won the AFC Champions League title in 2006 and have three FA Cup titles under their belt (2000, 2003 and 2005) but the league title had eluded them. Since joining the K-League in 1994, Jeonbuk have often had a lackluster showing in domestic league play and on average finished in the middle to lower half of the league standings. In fact, Jeonbuk’s best finishes were fourth overall in 2008 and 2000.

The hero of yesterday’s game was Brazilian midfielder Eninho. The two sides were entangled in a tight match until the 21st minute when Eninho, 28, placed an arching free kick past Seongnam’s Jung Sung-ryong. From that point onward, the momentum began to shift toward Jeonbuk, and Seongnam never recovered. Eninho scored again in the 39th minute off a feed from Choi Tae-uk to put the Motors up by two goals, and things stayed that way for much of the game.

Eninho scored 11 goals in 39 appearances for Daegu FC last season but managed only five goals in 23 appearances this season. Having started his professional career with the Mogi Mirim of Brazil in 1999, Eninho came up big in yesterday’s game.

Seongnam desperately tried to claw their way back into the game in the second half, resulting not in goals but an increase in physical plays. As a result, Lee Dong-gook, the K-League’s top goal scorer during the regular season with 20 goals, added a goal off a penalty kick in the 72nd minute. While Cho Dong-kun of Seongnam answered with his team’s first goal in the 84th minute, it was a little too late for the Seongnam club, which came up one game short of earning their eighth league title.

Despite the chilly weather, 36,246 fans showed up for the game at Jeonju World Cup Stadium as the Motors treated the fans to their first league title win on home field.

By Jason Kim []

Jeonbuk Motors players and coaching staff celebrate their K-League Championship victory over the Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in North Jeolla yesterday. [NEWSIS]
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