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Ulsan extend K League 1 lead with narrow win; champions Jeonbuk climb up tables

All News 09:16 May 19, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- Thanks to a last-gasp goal against their closest pursuer, Ulsan Hyundai FC have widened their lead atop the K League 1 tables this week.

Meanwhile, five-time defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors continued their ascent, trying to make the title race a bit more interesting.

Um Won-sang scored during second-half injury time for Ulsan, helping them beat No. 2-ranked Jeju United 1-0 on Wednesday at home in Ulsan, 415 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Um Won-sang of Ulsan Hyundai FC (C) celebrates his goal against Jeju United during the clubs' K League 1 match at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, 415 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on May 18, 2022. (Yonhap)

Ulsan became the first K League 1 club to reach 30 points this season. Jeju remained in second place with 22 points, unable to put more pressure on the top-ranked opponents.

Also on Wednesday, Jeonbuk also moved to 22 points by beating Pohang Steelers 1-0. Jeju and Jeonbuk have the identical record of six wins, four draws and three losses, but Jeju hold the edge in the first tiebreaker, goals scored, by two at 16-14.

Jun Amano of Ulsan Hyundai FC (R) falls after colliding with Jeju United goalkeeper Kim Dong-jun during the clubs' K League 1 match at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, 415 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on May 18, 2022. (Yonhap)

In each of the past three seasons, Ulsan finished in second place behind Jeonbuk. While Jeonbuk have the record for most championships in K League history with nine, Ulsan own the mark for the most runner-up finishes with 10.

Ulsan's most recent title came in 2005.

They took an important step toward ending that drought by edging out Jeju. Um, who had a goal and two assists on May 8 and another assist last Saturday, stayed hot by scoring the winner. It came on Ulsan's 26th shot attempt. Jeju only had seven shots and still came within minutes of securing a point against Ulsan.

Takahiro Kunimoto of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (in white) ends up inside the net after scoring a goal against Pohang Steelers during the clubs' K League 1 match at Pohang Steel Yard in Pohang, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on May 18, 2022. (Yonhap)

Jeonbuk stretched their undefeated streak to eight matches -- five wins and three draws -- as Takahiro Kunimotos 14th-minute score stood as the winning goal versus Pohang.

Whereas Ulsan peppered Jeju with shots, Jeonbuk only had three shot attempts against Pohang. Kunimoto's goal came on Jeonbuk's only shot on target in the match.

Still, Jeonbuk reached the top three in the tables for the first time since the opening weekend of the season on Feb. 20.

The battle of the two worst defenses in the K League did not produce any winner Wednesday, as Seongnam FC blew a lead late and settled for a 2-2 draw with Suwon FC.

Seongnam midfielder Kim Min-hyeok gave his team a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute, but he put one into his own net in the 84th minute for the draw.

Seongnam snapped their five-match losing streak but remained dead last in 12th place with six points. Suwon FC slipped from 10th to 11th at 12 points.

Gangwon FC, which began the week in 11th, climbed to 10th thanks to a 1-0 win over FC Seoul on Wednesday. It was Gangwon's first victory since March 5.

Seongnam FC players react to their 2-2 draw against Suwon FC in the clubs' K League 1 match at Tancheon Stadium in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, on May 18, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

FC Seoul, whose six-game undefeated run was snapped, stayed in sixth place at 17 points.

In Tuesday's action, Suwon Samsung Bluewings beat Gimcheon Sangmu FC 2-1, for their third straight home victory under new head coach Lee Byung-geun. Suwon Samsung have moved up to eighth place, up from 11th place when Lee first took the reins.

Incheon United pulled out a 2-2 draw against Daegu FC on Tuesday, with the league scoring leader Stefan Mugosa netting the equalizer in the dying seconds.

That goal was Mugosa's second of the match. The Montenegrin striker now has 11 goals this season, two ahead of Gimcheon Sangmu's Cho Gue-sung in the Golden Boot race.

K League 1 teams will go right back at it with three matches each on Saturday and Sunday.

Hwang Mun-ki of Gangwon FC celebrates his goal against FC Seoul during the clubs' K League 1 match at Gangneung Stadium in Gangneung, 240 kilometers east of Seoul, on May 18, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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