I don’t usually do these things (cause I suck at them), but I’ve got some free time, so let’s get cracking. Champions League, K League, Asian Games, AFC Champions League, just what happened with everyone?
On Tuesday, the men’s team took on Thailand. Not a tricky task on paper, but it proved harder – as it usually does – on the pitch. Kim Shin-wook remained sidelined from the knock he suffered in the group stage, and as such Lee Yong-jae <blech> continued up top. Korea pushed and pushed against a compact Thai defense, and eventually the goal came late in the first half. Rim/Lim/Im (choose your spelling) Chang-woo crossed from the right wing, and Lee Jong-ho snuck between defenders to get his head to it, off the post and into the net. Then in first half stoppage time, Korea was awarded a slightly soft penalty (cue complaints about home field advantage/bribery/match-fixing), and Jang Hyun-soo stepped up and converted with ease – twice. 2-0 to Korea, and that’s how the match would end.
The men’s team are in action today, in the gold-medal match against . . . North Korea! Is revenge on hand? Payback for the U-16 boys and the Korea ladies? We’ll see. Kick off is at 8PM KST (sorry you’ll have to convert the time on your own) and will be broadcast on SBS and KBS2.
So last check, the ladies had been knocked out at the semifinal stage by (see above) North Korea. That set up a bronze-medal match with Vietnam last night. I didn’t watch this one, but looking at the scoreline and stats, it seems like it was a fairly comfortable win for the 여자’s. Kwon Han-eul, Jung Seol-bin, and Park Hee-young all scored for Korea. The team dominated possession, 70-30, and the shot count 18/9 to 6/1. I’m sure the ladies had hoped for gold, but congratulations on their bronze medal.
*If you’re curious, the ladies from up north made it 2/2 against national foes. Having dispatched South Korea in the semis, they defeated Japan 3-1 in the final. If only the US was here . . .
Champions League (Europe)
Only one Korean in action in Europe’s premier club competition. That would of course be Son Heung-min and Bayer Leverkusen. Leverkusen had a disappointing start to their 2014/15 Champions League campaign, losing to Monaco on match day 1, and were looking to set things right against a tricky Benfica. But, things were going good for the German-side as Stephan Kiessling scored after 25 minutes (not sure if Son got an assist for that). Son did his usual cut in and shoot routine, Julio Cesar got down to save, but the rebound fell right to Kiessling who poked home. Eight minutes later, it was Son’s turn to score. Bellarami’s pullback found Son in space in the box, and he hit it first time into the roof of the net. Leverkusen would add a third from the spot (Calhanoglu converted), and Benfica would net a consolation goal.
Three important points for Leverkusen, which sees them in 3rd place in the group, but just one point behind Monaco and next-opponent Zenit. Son also received the man of the match award from UEFA, so congratulations on that.
After the match Son spoke to the media, and he said . . .
It was a good performance, and we were deserved victors. We always try to perform right from the very start, to put our opponents under pressure. We tried that in our first match against Monaco, but in the end we didn’t manage it. We did it better this time, scoring goals, and netting the first one pretty early in the match. That was very important for us.
It was very important to score the third goal, too. Kiessling did a great job there up front; but not only him, the whole team played in an outstanding way. The Champions League is very important for us, and [next opponents] Zenit today drew 0-0 at home so we have a real chance in this group. We have to focus on our play and perform well, and believe in our game. I think we are on a very positive path. Let’s see what we can do.
AFC Champions League
FC Seoul and Western Sydney Wanderers ended the first leg of their semi-final tie at 0-0. Who would emerge the winner down under? To be succinct, Western Sydney did. They won the second leg 2-0 after a very professional performance. Matteo Poljak scored in just the third minute, and then Western Sydney shut things down. Shannon Cole would add a second for the Aussie team in the second half. FC Seoul played a lot like they did in the first leg. A fair bit of possession, but few real threats/chances were ever created. Western Sydney was perfectly happy to let Seoul’s wingbacks go up and down the flanks and then cross, and Seoul was perfectly happy to do just that. The result, lots of crosses and lots of clearances. Western Sydney will face Al Hilal in the championship game. Al Hilal (featuring Kwak Tae-hwi) saw off Lee Myeong-joo and Al Ain in their semifinal the day before.
K League Classic
With the exception of FC Seoul (and their opponent Ulsan Hyundai), the rest of the K League Classic took part in some midweek action.[table “” not found /]
- Gyeongnam pulled the upset of the round, defeating second-place Pohang 2-1 at the Changwon Soccer Center. Gyeongnam took the lead through Lee Jae-an (63′), only for Go Mu-yeol to equalize late (84′) for Pohang. But more drama was in store, as Lee Chang-min scored the winner for Gyeongnam in stoppage time (90’+2).
- Two early goals for leaders Jeonbuk, scored by Kim Dong-chan (1′) and Lee Dong-gook (7′) were enough for them to extend their lead at the top of the table.
- Seongnam pulled themselves a bit further away from the relegation spots with their 1-0 win over Jeonnam. Kim Dong-seob scored in the 49′.
- Suwon and Incheon shared the points in a 1-1 draw at the Big Bird. Santos scored early in the second half (53′), only for Incheon to hit back soon after through Choi Jong-hwan (59′).
- The final game saw two teams in desperate need of points share them. In front of a paltry crowd of 1,472, Busan and Sangju drew 1-1. Fagner gave Busan the lead (42′), but as they tend to do, Busan led Sangju equalize late. Park Gyeong-ik scored for the army boys in the 86′.
K League Classic Table after Round 29
[table “” not found /]
- The split happens in four rounds (after round 33), so mark your calendars. October 26 is D-Day for the clubs in the middle to get out or stay up.
- Jeonbuk opens the gap to five points over Pohang and Suwon at the top
- Pohang’s loss and Suwon’s draw sees the Gyeonggi club move level on points with the Gyeongbuk side.
- Should Ulsan win the game in hand over Seoul (scheduled for Oct. 9), they could reclaim their top half spot (depending on what happens in round 30, which will be played before the re-scheduled match).
- With Seongnam and Gyeongnam both winning, Sangju drops into the relegation spots for the first time this season.
- Busan remains bottom (sniff, sniff) after their draw.
The below YouTube channel (SpoTV) contains highlights from a couple of the matches (most were not broadcasted or streamed).
I imagine someone else will have a weekend listing up in the next day or so, so look out for that. 잘 가요.