Korean international defender Kang Min Su returned from injury to complete the entire 120 minutes as Jeju United progressed to the FA Cup quarter finals thanks to a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory against Gwangju Sangmu Phoenix.
It was a tense night of FA Cup football in Seogwipo as both teams fielded strong sides. The first half was a nervous affair with neither side wanting to make a mistake and fall behind. Striker Bang Seung Hwan was Jeju’s most impressive player and had several shots saved by in-form Gwangju goalkeeper Lee Jung Rae. The visitors also created a few opportunities as Choi Jae Soo whipped in a number of threatening crosses into the Jeju penalty area. While neither side were able to make a breakthough, Jeju clearly had the upper hand.
The second half continued in a similar vein, and finally Jeju got that all important first goal on 66 minutes. Some excellent skill from Oveira saw the striker play a threatening ball into the Gwangju penalty area. Goalkeeper Lee Jung Rae got a touch on the ball but was only successful in passing it straight to Bang Seung Hwan who scored with an open goal from six yards. Jeju United’s players and supporters celebrated and World Cup Stadium went into party mode.
United began to sit back and seemed happy to settle for a 1-0 win. Things looked comfortable as Gwangju rarely threatened and seemed short of ideas. Deep into injury time just as the supporters were preparing to leave, the unthinkable happened as Bae Hyo Sung headed home a speculative cross to secure an unlikely injury time equaliser. With the players tired from a frantic 90 minutes of football, extra-time was always going to be difficult for them.
Jeju were given an advantage when Choi Jae Soo was sent off in the first period. Reduced to 10 men Gwangju sat back to defend, however Jeju struggled to create any clear cut opportunities. The game finished 1-1 and was to be decided through a penalty shoot-out.
The home support descended on the area directly behind the goal as they whipped up an intimidating atmosphere for the Gwangju penalty takers. With scores tied at 3-3 after five kicks each, Bae Hyo Sung missed for the visitors in sudden death. Vieira scored the winner for United with a calm and clinical penalty earning Jeju a place in the last eight.
Progressing further in the competition may well be difficult though as Jeju has been given a tough quarter final draw at home to Jeonbuk to be played in Seogwipo on July 15. Jeonbuk have made an impressive start to the season and are definite title challengers. United fans will also not have forgotten the humiliating 5-0 home defeat inflicted by them back in May, however will be hopeful for revenge in this game.
In the midst of a busy month of fixtures for the side, Jeju welcomed Ulsan to Seogwipo for their Peace Cup quarter final first leg. On an incredibly humid Wednesday night United struggled to create chances against a vastly superior Ulsan side and can consider themselves lucky to have escaped with just a 1-0 defeat. The return leg will take place in Ulsan on July 22. While it will be a tough game for the islanders they are more than capable of gaining a victory now that they have a fully fit squad available.
Despite the distraction of important cup fixtures, Jeju also continued its bid for a K-League play-off position. The first league game of the month featured a difficult trip to third in the table Incheon United. The islanders put in an excellent performance, and thanks to a last gasp Ricardo free kick goal from 30 yards were able to take a 3-3 draw. On July 11 Jeju welcomed Chunnam to the World Cup Stadium. In an exciting, fast paced game neither side were able to find a winning goal as the game ended 1-1. The result moved Jeju to within three points of the top six and a place in the play-offs.
With four games across three competitions still to be played in July, it is clear that by the end of the month Jeju’s prospects for the season will be visible to all.
Jeju United’s remaining July fixtures: July 15: Jeju United Vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (FA Cup) 7:00pm (Seogwipo) July 18: Gwangju Sangmu Vs Jeju United (K-League) 7:00pm July 22: Ulsan Hyundai Vs Jeju United (Peace Cup) 7:00pm July 25: Jeju United Vs Suwon (K-League) 7:00pm (Seogwipo)
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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