The stunned and smiling faces of Gwangju FC’s 5990 home fans said it all. It was a game that Gwangju FC completely dominated, with no excuses for their opponents. It was also surprising that the away team, Jeonbuk Hyundai, who were coached by Romanian soccer legend Dan Petrescu, were missing several key players such as Baek Seung-ho, Kim Jin-soo, and Hong Jung-ho due to injury, but the self-proclaimed champions of Jeonbuk were unable to pose a real threat to Gwangju FC. Lee Jung-hyo’s delicate and well-designed organization of Gwangju FC once again shone through.
Gwangju FC, led by Lee Jung-hyo, is now threatening the top of the K League 1 standings as they moved into fifth place with a 2-0 home win over Jeonbuk Hyundai in the 2023 K League 1 at Gwangju Stadium at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 24. Not only is the team’s recent six-game unbeaten run (four wins, two draws, 12 goals scored and five conceded) remarkable, but the victory over their Honam football rivals took six years and two months, or 2247 days to be exact.
Lee Jung-hyo’s philosophy: ‘organization’ over solo play
The crowd of 5990 on Saturday evening was quite large, considering that the entire S section that welcomes away fans was under construction. The players of the home team, Gwangju FC, took this enthusiasm and ran with it. Even though the home fans had grown accustomed to Gwangju FC’s organizational prowess, there were gasps here and there, as the team played with Lee Jung-hyo’s football philosophy. It was another reminder that efficient soccer that leads to victory can also surprise and delight onlookers.
Gwangju FC brought the home fans to their feet twice in less than 20 minutes. First, Thomas had a crucial scoring chance (18:17) when he drove the ball in alone from down the centerline. He was denied by a super save from Jeonbuk Hyundai goalkeeper Kim Jung-hoon, but the new Brazilian striker showed that Gwangju FC has one more power to showcase.
The first goal was soon followed by a stunning display of Gwangju FC’s organization. It was a free-kick set-piece opportunity in front of the right sideline, and the Gwangju FC players took a novel approach that was difficult for their opponents to predict. Kim Han-gil appeared to send in a free-kick cross with his left foot, but he pulled the ball back and passed it to Lee Min-ki, who played it straight to Doo Hyun-seok. From there, Doo Hyun-seok and Lee Soon-min connected through eye contact to dive into the space in front of the goal and score a stunning back header goal (19:24). Meanwhile, the Jeonbuk Hyundai defenders didn’t know who to stop. It was a great example of what the Gwangju FC players have been working on in training, knowing that they are at a disadvantage when battling for high balls in front of the goal.
With six assists (0.32 per game), Doo Hyun-seok is now within striking distance of Leandro (Daejeon Hana Citizen) and Baek Sung-dong (Pohang Steelers), who both have seven assists. Gwangju FC’s organizational skills continued to shine in the second half.
In the 68th minute, Gwangju FC’s sharp space-creating organizational skills were on full display again, as a VAR on-field review denied them a goal. The buildup process of ‘Ahn Young-gyu-Min-ki-Uhm Ji-sung-Jung Ho-yeon-Thomas’ was enough to leave the home fans speechless. Kim Han-gil’s right-footed goal went in, but VAR video confirmed that Jeong Ho-yeon stepped on Jeonbuk Hyundai defender Koo Ja-ryong’s foot while connecting the ball.
The second half became more interesting as Jeonbuk Hyundai substitutes (Cho Kyu-sung, Song Min-kyu, and Moon Sun-min) came on, but Gwangju FC gave the home fans something to celebrate with an even more spectacular wedge goal in stoppage time.
Once again, the passing organization designed by Lee Jung-hyo shone through, as the foursome of Lee Sun-min, Lee Kang-hyun, Jung Ho-yeon, and Lee Gun-hee weaved their way from just in front of the left sideline to the left corner of the Jeonbuk penalty area to the front of the goal.
Lee Kang-hyun’s one-touch through ball was a masterpiece, but it was Lee Soon-min’s 토토사이트 penetration into the space and the timing of his quick pass that ultimately broke down the Jeonbuk Hyundai defense. With no marker, Jung Ho-yeon opened up a great scoring opportunity for Lee Kun-hee, who came on as a substitute with 3:40 to go, and he took advantage of the gap between the two Jeonbuk Hyundai center backs to curl a right-footed inside kick into the net. It came just one minute and five seconds into second-half stoppage time.
Jeonbuk Hyundai, who brought in Dan Petrescu to turn them back into a top-flight team, tried to bring some order in the second half, but were left with no words to describe the result other than helpless in the face of Gwangju FC’s solid organization.
Fifth-ranked Gwangju FC will now host first-place Ulsan Hyundai on July 2 at 6 p.m., while eighth-ranked Jeonbuk Hyundai welcomes fourth-ranked Jeju United to Jeonju at 6 p.m. on July 1. Before that, the two Honam rivals will have to meet one more time in the Football Association (FA) Cup quarterfinals on July 28 at 7 p.m. in Jeonju.