Jeonbuk reclaim lead at top of the K League
With just one more week of K League action left, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors top the standings with a two-point lead over Ulsan Hyundai. Gwangju FC, now fixed at the bottom spot, will be relegated to the second division league next season while the second-to-last club Gangwon FC will have to face Daejeon Hana Citizens in a promotion-relegation playoff.
Jeonbuk top the standings with 73 points, Ulsan Hyundai are runner-up with 71 points and Daegu FC are in third position with 55 points.
With a 2-0 win over Daegu FC on Sunday, Jeonbuk reclaimed their lead in the standings. After Jeonbuk topped the standings with a victory against Ulsan on Nov. 6, the team slipped to second place, losing to Suwon FC in their third-to-last match of the season on Nov. 21 and conceded the top seat to their biggest contender as Ulsan won against Jeju United on the same day.
But this time around, Jeonbuk added three points to their K League table while Ulsan only added a point after a 0-0 draw against Suwon Samsung Bluewings on Sunday.
Jeonbuk were desperate for a win over the weekend while Daegu were coming from a 1-0 victory against the Jeonnam Dragons in the first leg of the FA Cup final on Nov. 24. But in the league match, the North Jeolla side dominated the game, earning a 62 percent ball possession rate. Jeonbuk had 15 shots, seven of which were on target while Daegu had nine shots, four of which were on target.
Both teams were quiet in the first half but as soon as the second half started, Jeonbuk’s Hong Jeong-ho broke through converting Takahiro Kunimoto’s corner kick. In the 64th minute, Jeonbuk substituted Moon Seon-min for Han Kyo-won and 22 minutes later, it was Moon who scored the second goal for Jeonbuk.
Jeonbuk have the most wins in the top league, having won eight championship titles in the last 12 seasons — including last year. In 2012 and 2016, Jeonbuk finished runner-up. The club won the FA Cup four times, including last year, and also won the AFC Champions League title twice, in 2009 and 2016.
In the K League, the bottom club from the K League 1 is automatically relegated. The second-to-last team competes in a playoff each year with one of the runners-up from the K League 2. If the K League 2 club wins, they are promoted and the K League 1 club is relegated.
Gwangju are now automatically relegated and will play in the K League 2 next season while Gangwon will have to face Daejeon to stay in the first division league. Daejeon earned their spot in the playoff after winning against Anyang FC on Nov. 7. Daejeon and Gangwon will face each other twice, home and away, in December as they look for a chance to play in the top tier.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]