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Gangwon FC earn promotion to 1st division football league

All Headlines 17:46 November 20, 2016

SEONGNAM, South Korea, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- Gangwon FC have earned a promotion to South Korea's top pro football league for next season.

Gangwon played to a 1-1 draw against Seongnam FC on Sunday in the second leg of the promotion playoff at Tancheon Stadium in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, just south of the capital.

Gangwon and Seongnam had a scoreless draw in the first leg in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Thursday. The two teams were tied on aggregate score after two matches, but Gangwon edged out Seongnam on away goals.

Gangwon will return to the top flight K League Classic for the first time since 2013. Seongnam, seven-time champions of the Classic, will be relegated to the second tier K League Challenge for the first time.

Each season, the last place club in the Classic gets relegated to the Challenge the following season, while the second-to-last team must survive the promotion playoff.

Seongnam dropped into the playoff after finishing in 11th place among 12 clubs in the first division. Gangwon finished third in the second division this season, and won two straight playoff matches to set up a showdown against Seongnam.

Against Seongnam, Gangwon scored precious away goal first in the 42nd minute. Heo Beom-san threaded a fine pass to Han Seok-jong, who lobbed the ball over Seongnam goalkeeper Kim Keun-bae in the box to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Seongnam's veteran midfielders Kim Do-heon and Hwang Jin-sung came on in the second half to help their troubled team. The hosts finally leveled the score in the 77th after Hwang's left-footed free kick beat Gangwon goalkeeper Ham Seok-min.

However, Gangwon didn't flinch. Brazilian striker Matheus Alves Leandro almost gave a cushion to Gangwon in the 84th, but his left-footed shot hit the post.

Seongnam pushed forward for their second goal, but they lost their energy when midfielder An Sang-hyun was sent off for his second yellow card in the 88th.

The promotion playoffs were first introduced in 2013. With Gangwon's victory, the Challenge clubs are now 4-0 against the Classic teams in the promotion playoffs.

Gangwon FC head coach Choi Yun-kyu is tossed in the air by the players at Tancheon Stadium in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, on Nov. 20, 2016, after Gangwon edged out Seongnam FC to earn promotion to the first division K League Classic next season. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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