Professional soccer K League 1 leader Ulsan Hyundai once again failed to catch Daejeon Hana Citizen and allowed the second-place Pohang Steelers to catch up.

Ulsan drew 1-1 with Daejeon in their 30th round home match of the Hana One Q K League 2023 at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan on Saturday.

The 1-1 result leaves Ulsan with 62 points, six points behind second-place Pohang Steelers (56 points), who defeated Suwon FC 2-0 earlier in the day. Ulsan’s dominance in the race for the top spot, which has been going on for some time, has now turned into a real battle.

Ulsan has drawn two and lost one of their three meetings with newly-promoted Daejeon this season. Daejeon hasn’t been able to cross the threshold of victory against their former club.

Despite Ulsan’s strong showing, Daejeon remained in eighth place with 38 points after four consecutive games without a win (two draws and two losses).

Ulsan, who had just one win (two draws and two losses) in their last five matches, came out with an unconventional lineup that excluded players who had been away on international duty with the national team, including goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo, and started players who hadn’t received much playing time.

Prior to the match, the team appointed veteran center back Kim Ki-hee as captain and key striker Lee In-jong-kyu as vice captain in a bid to shake things up.

It was a good start for Daejeon. Just 1 minute and 20 seconds into the match, Kim In-gyun picked up a loose pass after Masa raced through the midfield and slotted a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Cho Soo-hyuk, who had come forward from the left side of the penalty area.

Ulsan equalized on a penalty kick in the 29th minute.

Daejeon defender Kim Hyun-woo brought down Lee Min-kyu inside the penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick, and Lee Min-kyu stepped up to take the spot kick and converted with his right foot for the equalizer. Inhabigyu is now the league’s top scorer with 14 goals this season.

Ulsan, who made a number of substitutions in the second half, including Rubikson, Lee Chung-yong, Kim Young-kwon and Bako, celebrated in the 38th minute when Bako’s stunning volley from the right side of the penalty arc went in.

However, the goal was disallowed after an on-field review by the assistant referee determined that Im Jong-jong had obstructed the view of Daejeon goalkeeper Lee Chang-geun during the shooting situation.

In the second half of added time, Ulsan had another golden opportunity to equalize when Lee Chung-yong was fouled by Daejeon’s Oh Jae-seok for a handball on the right side of the penalty area, but this time Lee’s shot was blocked by a diving Lee Chang-geun and hit the ground.

At the Anbang Steel Yard, Pohang defeated Suwon FC 2-0 thanks to a multi-goal performance from Zeca to improve to 9 games unbeaten (5 W, 4 D) and keep the pressure on Ulsan.

Zeca was responsible for both goals and was the star performer in the win.

Zeca opened the scoring in the 22nd minute by tucking home Wandelsson’s cross from the left flank, then added a second in the 44th minute when he dribbled down the right flank from near the halfway line and finished with a hard right-footed shot.

With the two goals, Zeca surpassed the 10-goal mark in the league this season.

Pohang fired off 12 shots on the day, including nine on target, to Suwon’s one overall, but were unable to add to their tally in the second half.

Suwon, who have lost all three meetings with Pohang this season, remain in 10th place with 29 points.

Gangwon FC escaped the bottom of the table by catching Jeonbuk Hyundai in enemy territory.

After going winless in its last three matches (one draw and two losses), Gangwon accumulated 24 points to leapfrog Suwon Samsung (22 points) to 11th place, with 30 rounds to play on Sunday.

Jeonbuk remained in fifth place (43-35 points – goal difference 7) but fell to a five-match winless streak (three draws and two losses).

Jeonbuk took the lead on a penalty kick just five minutes into the match.

Han Gyo-won was tripped by Gangwon defender Lee Ji-sol on the left side of the penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick, which Gustavo converted with his right foot.

However, Gangwon’s counterattack, led by Gabriel and Yago, was fierce, and back-to-back goals by Gabriel and Gallego in first-half stoppage time turned the tide. Gabriel scored his debut goal in the K League.

In the second half, heavy rains caused the ground to become waterlogged and the ball to roll poorly, which proved to be a factor in the game, but Gangwon’s Kim Dae-won drove a wedge with a goal in the 30th minute of the second half.

At the Incheon Football Stadium, Incheon United edged Jeju United 2-1.

Incheon’s Lee Myung-joo opened the scoring in the 29th minute and Jeju’s Kim Seung-seop equalized in the 22nd minute, before Incheon’s Hernandez struck the winner in stoppage time from the left corner of the penalty area.

Incheon moved up one spot to sixth place (43-35 points, goal difference -1), while Jeju, who saw their winless streak extend to four matches (one draw, three losses), dropped to ninth place (35 points). 파워볼게임

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