Couple of things before talking about Jeonbuk’s Club World Cup journey as they cinched 5th place in the 2016 Club World Cup. First off, Tottenham hosts Hull for a midweek fixture at 3pm US EST this afternoon.
Son Heung-Min is expected to start. Game is televised in the US on NBC Sports.
Another is JLeague champs Kashima Antlers remarkably winning 3-0 in the semifinals against South America’s champions Athletico Nacional. In it, history was made: first time video replay was used to award a penalty decision against the Colombian side. Kashima advances onward to play in the finals – presumably against Real Madrid should they beat Club America. Tournment oddities lie in the fact that Kashima are not the Asian champs; they had a weird route to get here, including barely squeaking by semi-pro Auckland 2:1, and later a 2:0 win against South African side Mamelodi – and now with today’s surprise result – will be in the title match. No one said this was a tournament anyone takes too seriously, so, c’est la vie.
Jeonbuk, who were actually in decent form despite a 2:1 loss to Club America in the quarterfinals, got a consolation win against Mamelodi Sundowns today, a dominant 4:1 performance over the African champions. More on that after the jump:
An observational note from Jeonbuk’s QF clash with Concacaf champs Club America last weekend saw Kim Bo-kyung strike first, a lovely goal that actually caused boss Choi Kang-Hee to crack an extremely rare smile. Jeonbuk threatened to widen the lead several times, getting near misses from Lee Jae-Sung among notable players. Park Won-Jae gave all sorts of problems for the Club America defense down the right, sending in one dangerous cross after another. The Mexican side looked absolutely shocked to encounter Jeonbuk’s lightening combination first touch passing that started to resemble tiki taka – an attractive attacking style that Jeonbuk isn’t quite known for. In fact, for a fairly long stretch, Jeonbuk did everything BUT score another goal – they looked incredibly dominant – winning every ball and challenge and had a strange look of confidence about them. Certainly using the wookie, Kim Shin-Wook contributed to this effect, and while he was awkward as ever linking up with his feet – as a aerial target man, he was redirecting quite effectively. However, in the area, he was just swarmed and couldn’t get anything on net save for being a nuisance. Kimbo and company had a few more chances to double the lead, but Jeonbuk would rue their missed opportunities. Club America came roaring back, but the game winning goal conceded felt a tad bit unlucky, a routine shot that bounced off the Wookie’s foot and on into the corner of the net. On came Lee Dong-Guk, the lion king in substitution. He had 2 fantastic chances with the open net to equalize. He flubbed both opportunities and Jeonbuk just missed out with a semifinal date with Real Madrid. One more note: the most odd thing about Choi Kang-Hee’s lineup: NOT starting Leonardo. He scored 10 goals in the last 5 Asian Champions League matches. Why was he benched? By the time he came on, he looked lively but wasn’t able to make much impact with dwindling minutes left. Choi Kang-Hee probably missed out on playing Real Madrid by not starting Leonardo – or at the very least playing him too late. That said, losing Lopes in the ACL final definitely hurt Jeonbuk no matter what.
Moving on – Not much to say about today’s win, but it proved that the high octane performance against Club American wasn’t an illusion. Park Won-Jae cross eventually found Kim Bo-Kyung, rounding the defense and keeper, opened up the game with a scintillating class goal that he rocketed into the near post corner. He followed that up by contributed to the 2nd goal, a very neat set piece practiced on the training grounds with multiple moving parts: Kimbo took the free kick, he opted to go short to a mobile Lee Jae-Sung cutting across the 18 yard box toward Kimbo. Lee Jae-Sung clinically flicked it to Ko Moo-Yeol streaking down the left. The South African defense was distracted by Lee Jae-Sung’s run, then scrambled to deal with Ko, allowing space for Ko to cross. Mamelodi couldn’t cleanly get it out of danger –Lee Jong-Ho emerged in the chaos, and with his back to the goal, reflexively turned and shoot for a brilliant 2nd Jeonbuk goal. Demoralized, Jang Yun’s low cross was misplayed by Brazilian defender Nascimento, who knocked it into his own net. Jeonbuk subbed in the Wookie for a routine header from a Lee Jae-Sung corner kick into the net for a late 4th goal, not before a pretty spectacular consolation strike curled in by Tau.
Note: again Leonardo didn’t start, came in the 2nd half and looked lively yet again, 2 excellent shots on goal, both saved in the nick of time by Mamelodi’s keeper, who had lots of work today. There are rumors that Leonardo is looking to China due to the snub but press statements made indicate he wants to continue at Jeonbuk.
I’m running out of time -be back soon!
Back again for a very very late weekend roundup, we go to Korean Footballers Abroad:
Son Heung Min — Started and wasn’t great but Tottenham played terribly and really all the good things came from Son with good shots from distance. When he was pulled it wasn’t a surprise outside the fact that many others were playing worse. Was he pulled early to freshen up or will Pochettino go with Sissoko?
Ji Dong Won — A bit weaker Ji… he was working hard but his aerial work was a bit errant and in particular, he scuffed two great (but not easy) chances in the box. He’s the only playmaker though which is a bit frustrating to watch Augsburg as Ji can’t be in the box and create plays at the same time. It was a bad showing for Augsburg who lost their cool in a scrappy match and Augsburg will now have to start worrying about the ones below. Hopefully the return of Koo and others spark some offense.
Koo Ja Cheol — He came on at 10 minutes and had one nice move to earn a corner but was a bit errant otherwise. Clearly he’s not 100% else he would have come on sooner, but hopefully a positive sign. A week of training hopefully enough to get him to start but certainly bench if he’s not 100%.
Park Joo Ho / Kim Jin Su — Nothing to report.
In Barca academy news, Lee Seung-Woo netted a hat trick for Juvenil A. He made this coveted list:
Barcelona Juvenil A forward Lee Seung-woo, who scored a hat-trick v Ferriolense, makes Catalan daily SPORT's La Masia Team of the Week. pic.twitter.com/eWHZLbkmoP
— Steve Han (@RealSteveScores) December 13, 2016
On Wednesday Dec 14, plenty of midweek fixtures in the EPL, Son was on the bench for Spurs hosting Hull – he came on late in the game when the game was already wrapped up 3:0.
Lee Chung-Yong actually started for Crystal Palace as Puncheon was out suspended. Against Man U, he was on the pitch until late in the 2nd half and departed with the score level at 1:1. Crystal Palace conceded a very late goal to Ibrahimovic and let the game slip away 1:2. I didn’t get a chance to see how Lee played, I’ll get a chance to watch later.
Ki was out still recovering from a broken toe, Swansea lost again away at West Brom.
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