Jeju United won a critical match away to Suwon last night by a final score of 3-2, moving them to within three points of first place Jeonbuk Hyundai who lost at home by a score of 2-1 to Sangju.
Coming into the match, the two sides had played each other on three occasions this season, with Suwon winning all three times, including knocking Jeju out of the F.A. Cup in the fourth round.
Jeju entered the match having just taken sole possession of second place in the table following an important 2-1 win at home against Ulsan Hyundai.
A bright start
The match started brightly for the away side, as Jeju looked to put pressure on the hosts right from the outset of the match.
Luck would shine on United in the ninth minute when Alex hoofed what looked like a routine clearance into the Suwon half of the pitch. Suwon goalkeeper Shin Hwa-yong came out of the area, and, not being able to play the ball with his hands, allowed it to sail past him into the net.
Jeju would add a second only six minutes later when Chung Woon continued the run of play up the left wing, crossing in for Jin Seong-uk, who volleyed in from close range to double the advantage, despite calls from Suwon players of a foul being committed as play was moving forward.
A good first half performance was tainted somewhat as Suwon was able to pull a goal back through Santos just before the end of the first half, the Brazilian rising well from a corner in front of the Jeju defence, leaving Kim Ho-jun flat footed between the posts.
There was some concern as to how Jeju would come out for the second half, but those concerns were quickly put to rest when Yoon Bit-garam carved out space to fire low to the right of the ‘keeper from outside the box following a deft layoff from Magno Cruz.
The match looked to be over after Suwon were reduced to ten men in the 73rd minute, following the sending off of Kwak Kwang-seon, but the home side had other ideas.
Holding on till the end
With their season seemingly in the balance, the hosts poured forward looking for a way back into the match, and their efforts were rewarded in the 83rd minute courtesy of a second goal from Lee Jong-sung, who found space from the edge of the area to rocket a strike home, leaving Kim with no chance in the Jeju goal.
Suwon kept the pressure on, and could have equalized in injury time, but the Jeju back line was able to hold firm until the final whistle and take an all-important three points from the match, leaving them as the only team able to catch leaders Jeonbuk at the top of the table.
The victory leaves Jeju currently on 57 points, maintaining a three-point edge on Ulsan in third, while they also move three points closer to the top thanks to Jeonbuk’s loss at home.
With three matches remaining, Jeju will next face off at the weekend away to Sangju, followed by a home fixture against Gwangju.
Jeonbuk will next face Daegu at home on the weekend, followed by an away trip to Suwon.
The two sides will then face off at Jeju’s World Cup Stadium on the final match before the league splits in two. A win in this game could potentially set things up nicely for the final five games of the season against the other top five teams.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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