Ulsan hold on to top spot after another week of K League action
Ulsan Hyundai held onto the top spot on the K League table over the weekend, beating FC Seoul 2-1 to widen their lead in the early stages of the 2022 season.
FC Seoul opened the scoring on Friday, with Cho Young-wook bagging the first goal just four minutes into the match. Ulsan's Um Won-sang was able to level the score in the 60th minute, with Leonardo secured Ulsan's victory with a second goal in the 89th minute.
Ulsan have not lost a single match since the start of the season. Despite kicking things off with a draw against Gimcheon Sangmu, Ulsan have since beaten Seongnam 2-0, Suwon FC 2-1 and Jeonbuk Hyundai 1-0 to top the table.
Ulsan are currently the only team with four wins in the early days of the 2022 season.
Following the strong start, the challenge for Ulsan will, unsurprisingly, be holding on to that lead for the remaining 34 games of the season.
Recent history works against the club in this regard: Last year Ulsan were on track for a phenomenal season and a shot at Korea's first ever treble, only to fall apart at the last minute and drop out of contention for all three titles.
Ulsan ended the 2021 K League season in second place, two points behind Jeonbuk for the second year in a row. Just a couple of months earlier, the club was knocked out of the quarterfinals of the AFC Champions League after losing to the lower-ranked K League club Pohang Steelers and out of the FA Cup after losing the semifinals to K League 2 side Jeonnam Dragons.
On Sunday, Suwon FC won their first match of the season against Gangwon, with Lee Seung-woo making his first start on the pitch for the Suwon club.
Lee returned to Korea in December last year after spending 11 years playing overseas. After joining the Suwon club, Lee has only been substituted in during Suwon's first four matches of the season. Lee's arrival in Korea followed abortive spells in Portugal, Belgian, Italy and Spain, but the young forward has never played here.
Despite the high expectations, Lee has not been able to make much impact on the scoring yet, marking only one off-target shot on Sunday. Against Gangwon, it was Kim Dong-woo and Jung Jae-yong who scored the two goals, Kim in the 43th minute and Jung in the 90th minute.
With the win, Suwon FC have now pulled out of last place to take 10th with one win, one draw and four losses.
While Ulsan and Suwon added three points, defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are struggling, marking their third defeat since the start of the season with a 2-0 loss to Jeju United on Saturday. It was Jeju's first victory against Jeonbuk since 2017, with Jeju's Joo Min-kyu and Kim Ju-gong scoring the two goals.
With their last three losses against Jeju, Ulsan and Pohang, Jeonbuk are currently in second-to-last place, only two points above 12th-place Seongnam FC.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]