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Jeonbuk beat Ulsan to add more drama to K League title race

All News 09:47 June 20, 2022

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- In danger of fading away in their bid for a sixth consecutive title in South Korean football, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors rode a rare goal barrage to defeat first-place Ulsan Hyundai FC over the weekend.

Takahiro Kunimoto netted twice as part of Jeonbuk's three-goal explosion in a 13-minute span, helping the five-time defending K League 1 champs to a 3-1 victory on Sunday at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan.

Takahiro Kunimoto of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (C) celebrates after scoring a goal against Ulsan Hyundai FC during the clubs' K League 1 match at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on June 19, 2022. (Yonhap)

Um Won-sang had the lone Ulsan goal in the 40th minute, but Jeonbuk had already scored their three goals by then.

Ulsan still sit atop the tables with 36 points, and Jeju United, which defeated Incheon United 2-1 on Saturday, are in second place at 29 points. Jeonbuk moved into the sole possession of third place with 28 points.

Jeonbuk hadn't scored more than two goals in a match since April 9, an uncharacteristic drought for a team long known for firewagon offense.

On the flip side, Ulsan gave up more than two goals in a match for the first time all season, and the loss snapped their undefeated run at five matches.

A victory by Ulsan would have kept them in front of Jeju by 10 points and left Jeonbuk trailing by 14 -- by no means insurmountable with 22 matches to go but certainly an uphill climb.

Also on Sunday, FC Seoul beat Suwon Samsung Bluewings 1-0 in their latest "Super Derby," behind Cho Young-wook's second-half header. The win moved FC Seoul up a notch to sixth place at 21 points.

Players for Ulsan Hyundai FC (in blue) and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vie for the ball during the clubs' K League 1 match at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on June 19, 2022. (Yonhap)

On Saturday, last-place Seongnam FC battled Daegu FC to a 1-1 draw.

At 10 points, Seongnam FC are five points behind Gangwon FC, a 3-1 loser to Pohang Steelers on Friday, for 11th place.

Also on Friday, Suwon FC edged out Gimcheon Sangmu FC 1-0 to snap their six-match winless skid.

This was the first set of matches in the K League 1 in June following an international break. The clubs will go right back at it with three matches Tuesday and three more Wednesday.

Cho Young-wook of FC Seoul (R) celebrates after scoring a goal against Suwon Samsung Bluewings during the clubs' K League 1 match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 35 kilometers south of Seoul, on June 19, 2022, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Jeju United will visit Daegu FC at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, trying to keep the pressure on Ulsan. Pohang, in fourth place with 26 points, will try to enter the top-three mix when they visit Suwon FC on Tuesday, also a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

Ulsan will be in the nation's capital to take on FC Seoul at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, while Jeonbuk will host Suwon Samsung Bluewings at 7 p.m. the same evening.

Ulsan have not lost to FC Seoul in their past 10 meetings, recording eight wins and two draws.

Manuel Palacios of Seongnam FC (R) tries to dribble past Hong Jeong-un of Daegu FC during the clubs' K League 1 match at Tancheon Stadium in Seongnam, 20 kilometers south of Seoul, on June 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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