Incheon United extended its unbeaten streak to eight games and jumped to fourth place after beating ‘champions’ Ulsan Hyundai 3-1, led by a brilliant performance from Hong Si-Hoo, who scored a goal and picked up an assist.
Incheon won 3-1 at home against Ulsan in the 37th round of the Hana OneQ K League 2023 at Incheon Stadium on Thursday.
Incheon (56 points), which remained unbeaten in eight matches (four wins and four draws), moved up one place to fourth, knocking Jeonbuk Hyundai (54 points), which has played one game less, to fifth.
With a two-point lead over third-place Gwangju FC (58 points), Incheon can now hope to qualify for the 2024-2025 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Elite (ACLE) playoffs, which are awarded to the top three teams in K League 1 this season.
Ulsan’s “goalie” Lee In-gyu scored his 17th goal of the season from the penalty spot despite his team’s defeat, moving him closer to the top of the scoring charts than Thiago (16 vs. Daejeon).
In their final home game of the year, Incheon’s well-organized defense perfectly broke down Ulsan’s defense, which had opted for a rotation in the aftermath of their November A-Match withdrawal.
Focusing on the counterattack, Incheon created a crucial goal opportunity in the 15th minute, but Ulsan goalkeeper Cho Soo-hyuk was unable to capitalize on it.
With Ulsan’s Bojanic having to be substituted due to injury, Incheon briefly gained the numerical advantage in the 15th minute, but were unable to capitalize as Chun Sung-hoon’s header caught the fingertips of a diving Cho Soo-hyuk, and Hong Si-hoo’s right-footed shot was also denied by a super save from Cho Soo-hyuk.
Incheon missed another crucial chance in the 28th minute when Chun Sung-hoon, who won the ball in front of the goal, sprinted alone and fired a left-footed shot from the right side of the goal area that was saved by Ulsan goalkeeper Cho Soo-hyuk.
On the counterattack, Ulsan created a scoring chance in the 31st minute, but this time they couldn’t get past Incheon goalkeeper Kim Dong-heon.
He punched away Bako’s left-footed shot from the left side of the goal area, and then blocked a subsequent shot from Lee In-gyu to preserve the lead.
After a scoreless first half, Incheon took the lead five minutes into the second half.
’20-year-old striker’ Park Seung-ho scored his K League 1 debut with a non-stop left-footed shot from the front of the penalty area off a left-sided cross from Hong Si-hoo.
With momentum in their favor, Incheon quickly extended their lead to 3-0 in the second half as Hong Si-Hoo, assisted by Hernandez in the 28th minute, made it a one-goal, one-assist game before Oh Ban-Seok scored a header in the 31st minute.
Ulsan was awarded a penalty kick in the 44th minute, and Lee In-gyu stepped up to take the spot-kick to seal the win. 토토사이트