Gangwon FC, battling at the bottom of professional soccer’s K League 1, caught Daejeon Hana Citizen off guard to close the gap on last-place Suwon Samsung.
Gangwon defeated Daejeon 1-0 in the 36th round of the Hana One Q K League 2023 Final B at Daejeon World Cup Stadium on Nov. 11.
Kangwon, which is now winless in its last five matches (three draws and two losses), remains in 11th place with 30 points.
Gangwon is four points ahead of 12th-place Suwon Samsung (26 points), who face Suwon FC on Wednesday, and two points behind 10th-place Suwon FC (32 points).
In K-League 1, the 12th-place team is automatically relegated to K-League 2 next season, while the 10th and 11th-place teams fight for survival in a promotion playoff (PO) against K-League 2 teams.
With this season’s ‘battle for survival’ effectively down to a two-horse race between Suwon Samsung and Gangwon, the latter picked up three valuable points at a crucial juncture.
Daejeon, whose place in the top flight was decided earlier in the final round, saw their six-match unbeaten streak (two wins and four draws) snapped and are now in eighth place (47 points).
Gangwon, who were more desperate to avoid ‘direct relegation’, were the more aggressive in the first half.
After subbing in Wellington for U-22 player Lee Seung-won just 13 minutes into the game, they had several scoring chances.
In the 22nd minute, Lee’s right-footed mid-range shot from the left side of the penalty arc sailed just over the bar, and in the 27th minute, Wellington’s exquisite header following a pass from Lee was saved by Daejeon goalkeeper Lee Chang-geun.
Daejeon, led by top scorer Thiago (16 goals) and second in assists Leandro (seven), held Gangwon to just two shots on target to the visitors’ nine in the first half, and looked to bolster its offense with the cards of Masa and Kim In-gyun at the start of the second half.
In the second minute of the second half, Kangwon Wellington’s right-footed shot from the right side of the penalty area after receiving a pass from Lee Jung-hyeop rattled the net, but the goal was disallowed due to offside as Lee Jung-hyeop received the ball from a teammate.
Gangwon’s persistence paid off in the 24th minute.
A cutback from Yoo In-su on the left side of the penalty area was cleverly played by Lee Jung-hyeop to Kim Dae-won, who was in a better position to finish with his right foot.
A fierce bench battle ensued, with Gangwon substituting Gabriel and Gallego for Lee Jeong-hyeop and Wellington, and Daejeon replacing Thiago with Yoo Kang-hyun, but Gangwon held on to the one goal lead.
In the other Final B match at Jeju World Cup Stadium, Jeju United and FC Seoul played to a 0-0 draw.
With two wins and a draw in their last three matches, Seoul clinched seventh place (54 points), while ninth-placed Jeju (40 points) remained unbeaten in three matches (one win and two draws), but will have to wait until later to decide their fate.
At halftime, Jeju goalkeeper Yoo Yeon-soo’s retirement ceremony was held.
After being seriously injured in a car accident last October when he was hit by a drunk driver while traveling with his teammates, Yoo had undergone surgery and rehabilitation, but at the young age of 25, he decided to call it quits.
The crowd erupted in applause for Yoo in the 31st minute of the first half, and he rolled around the field in a wheelchair at halftime, greeting fans before saying goodbye to his teammates.
In the only other Final A match of the day, Daegu FC and Gwangju FC battled to a 1-1 draw.
Gwangju’s Becca opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a mid-range shot, but Daegu equalized in the 40th minute with a header from Kim Kang-san following a corner kick by Hong Chul.
Third-place Gwangju, with 58 points, did not close the gap on second-place Pohang Steelers (60 points) much, while sixth-place Daegu (50 points) trailed fifth-place Incheon United (52 points) by two points.
Daegu’s DGB Daegu Bank Park recorded its 10th sellout of the season (official attendance of 12,222). 슬롯