Ulsan Hyundai needed results. Although they quickly approached the top of K League 1 for the second time in a row and the fourth time in their career, the recent trend has not been smooth. In the league, they were undefeated for 3 consecutive games (2 draws, 1 loss), and including the second away match against Kawasaki Frontale (Japan) in Group I of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) in the 2023-2024 season, they were unable to win for 4 games. .
But I had to overcome it on my own. The third match of the ACL group stage Group I against Johor Darul Tajim (Malaysia) held at Ulsan Munsu Stadium on the 24th was both a crisis and an opportunity. In particular, Johor is an unpleasant opponent for Ulsan. Last year’s two losses in the ACL group stage led to early elimination. Ulsan coach Hong Myung-bo emphasized, “We need to win to raise the team spirit.”
Fortunately, the nightmare did not repeat itself. Ulsan succeeded in getting revenge with a 3-1 win. With 2 wins and 1 loss and 6 points, we are one step closer to advancing to the tournament. Central defender Lim Jong-eun, who was expected to start as a starter, had to hastily change his game entry due to a sprain in the instep during warm-up, but he made the result by shouting ‘Attack forward’.
It was good from the start. Ulsan, who took the lead in the 5th minute of the first half when captain Seung-Hyeon Jeong kicked Boyanic’s corner kick with his right foot, continued the goal parade. Rubikson, who was placed in the second line of attack, received the ball from behind in the 12th minute of the first half and scored a solo chance, and 6 minutes later, he scored an additional goal by disrupting the opponent’s side with a quick dribble. When the Swedish wing forward, who scored 6 goals and 3 assists in 26 K-League 1 games this season, stepped forward as a hero in difficult times, coach Hong clenched his fist and encouraged him.
But there was no easy victory. A big crisis has arrived. Right fullback Kim Tae-hwan received a yellow card in the 25th minute of the first half for an altercation with an opponent, and 11 minutes later, he was sent off for accumulating warnings for a foul. However, the Iranian referee’s decision was difficult to understand. Kim Tae-hwan’s altercation was because Johor striker Berson, who previously played for Suwon Samsung, kicked the ball hard into Ulsan’s warm-up zone, and there was no contact at all during the collision that led to the second yellow card. Nevertheless, the referee saw it as a ‘bad foul’.굿모닝토토
Despite being outnumbered early in the day, Ulsan did not give up on winning. Even though they gave up a chasing goal to Versson in the 8th minute of the second half, they did not lose concentration and held on smartly to get revenge.
Meanwhile, Group J’s Pohang Steelers also smiled brightly. On this day, in an away game against Urawa Reds (Japan), consecutive goals from Jae-hee Jeong (22nd minute of the first half) and Youngjun Ko (4th minute of the second half) resulted in a 2-0 win and a 3-game winning streak.