Ulsan Hyundai captures the 2017 FA Cup title

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Ulsan Hyundai captures the 2017 FA Cup title

Ulsan Hyundai FC won the 2017 Korea Football Association (FA) Cup on Sunday and earned a spot in Asia’s top club competition next year.


Ulsan Hyundai FC celebrates after winning the 2017 Korea Football Association Cup at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan on Sunday. By winning the FA Cup, Ulsan earned a spot in the AFC Champions League. [YONHAP]

Ulsan claimed the prestigious domestic cup competition title after beating Busan IPark FC with a 2-1 aggregate score over two games. Ulsan played to a scoreless draw with Busan in the second game of the FA Cup final at home, but the result was enough for their victory after they won the first game 2-1 on the road Wednesday.

Ulsan, which finished fourth in the top-tier K League Classic, will directly advance to the group stage of the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League as the Korean FA Cup title holders.

This was Ulsan’s first-ever FA Cup title since they were founded in 1983. Their previous best finish was in 1998, when they were the runners-up of the tournament.

Busan, which plays in the second-division K League Challenge, were looking for their first FA Cup title since 2004.

It was the visitors who had early control at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan. Busan forward Park Jun-tae had a promising chance in the ninth minute, but his left-footed attempt was tipped away by Ulsan goalkeeper Kim Yong-dae.

Ulsan striker Lee Jong-ho had his opportunity to score when he took the ball in the box in the 22nd minute, only to see his powerful shot go straight to Busan goalkeeper Kim Hyung-geun.

Busan nearly stunned Ulsan at the end of the first half with Lee Jae-kwon hitting the post from close range following Park’s cross.

In the second half, both clubs’ foreign players started to step up. Ulsan’s Croatian attacker Mislav Orsic tested Kim Hyung-geun with a right-footed attempt in the 53rd, while Busan’s Brazilian midfielder Romulo’s long-range effort in the 60th went over the net.

Desperate for goals, Busan made their final substitution in the 82nd, sending in forward Choe Seung-in for midfielder Jung Seok-hwa. Busan were given three minutes of stoppage time and had a free kick chance in the 93rd but failed to break through Ulsan’s solid defense until the end.

Ulsan head coach Kim Do-hoon thanked his players for executing the game plan. Ulsan will receive 300 million won ($276,000) for their win.

“The players knew what they had to do,” Kim said after the match. “After we defended the opponents’ attack in the first half, I told the players that we can turn the tide in the second half, and they followed the game plan very well.”

The FA Cup was also Kim’s first title since he became a pro football head coach. He joined Ulsan this season after coaching Incheon United for two seasons.

“It’s really a thankful day for me,” he said. “With this title, I will keep working hard. I also think this victory is the beginning for Ulsan.”

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