Gangwon FC, languishing at the bottom of the standings, pulled off a ‘great upset’. For the first time in 11 years and 27 matches since May 2012, the team won a game, knocking off leaders Ulsan Hyundai. It was the first win for coach Yoon Jeong-hwan in 58 days since he took over midway through June.
Gangwon pulled off a miracle 메이저놀이터 in their Hana One Q K League 2023 Round 26 home match against Ulsan at Gangneung Sports Complex at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, winning 2-0 thanks to back-to-back goals from Min-Seok-woo and Yago.
The victory marked the first time in 16 games that Gangwon has recorded a win, breaking a long winless streak. The team also climbed to 11th place in the standings (3W, 11D, 12L – 20 points), moving out of last place. Gangwon will look to make it two wins in a row when they welcome the Pohang Steelers to Anbang on March 19.
Meanwhile, defeated Ulsan failed to add another win to their tally for the second game in a row. They consolidated their position at the top of the standings (18 W, 3 D, 5 L – 57 points), but failed to close the gap on second-placed Pohang Steelers (45 points). Ulsan will look to get back to winning ways when they host Jeonbuk Hyundai on Sept. 19.
The home team lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Gabriel started up top. Wellington, Lee Seung-won, and Kim Dae-won were in the second line. Shin Min-woo and Hankook Young protected the back line. Ryu Kwang-hyun, Kim Young-bin, Kang Too-ji, and Kang Ji-hoon formed the defense. Lee Kwang-yeon was in goal.
The opposing team, Ulsan, came out with a 4-4-2 formation. Kim Ji-hyun and Lee In-gyu were in the front line. Cho Hyun-taek, Kim Min-hyuk, Lee Kyu-sung, and Kang Yoon-gu made up the midfield. Lee Myung-jae, Kim Young-kwon, Kim Ki-hee, and Kim Tae-hwan formed the back four. Cho Hyun-woo wore the goalkeeper’s gloves.
From the very beginning, Gangwon pushed forward against the odds with the help of the home fans’ enthusiastic cheers and support. They continued to attack with one-touch passes and quick offensive transitions in the final third. In the 17th minute, Gabriel’s low and quick shot was saved by goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo.
Gangwon’s offense continued. In the 20th minute, Kim Dae-won sent in an early cross from the right flank, and Gabriel’s header hit the top of the goal post as he rushed forward. In the 22nd and 34th minutes, Gabriel had two shots on goal that were saved by goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo.
Kangwon continued to push forward and eventually took the lead. In the 37th minute, after successfully defending a corner kick, the team launched a quick counterattack, in which Gabriel, who penetrated to the right flank of the penalty box, cut back with a clever heel kick, and Shin Min-woo, who was rushing in from behind, calmly finished with a shot.
After receiving the blow, Ulsan pushed forward at the start of the second half in an attempt to level the match. In the first and 12th minutes of the second half, Lee Myung-jae and Bako’s shots were reliably blocked by goalkeeper Lee Kwang-yeon. In the 17th minute, Lee Cheong-yong rattled the net but was called for an offside foul on Lee Min-gyu in the process.
Gangwon seemed to widen the gap with another goal. In the 31st minute, Gabriel’s header from a free-kick opportunity was saved by goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo, but the second ball floated high in front of the goal and Lee Ji-sol headed it back in. But before he could do so, an offside penalty was called.
With the fire under their belts, Ulsan pushed up their line and went on the offensive. However, they struggled to break through Gangwon’s solid defense, and even when they did, they were denied by goalkeeper Lee Kwang-yeon.
Kangwon drove a wedge into the match with an extra goal. With a perfect counterattack opportunity in the second half of stoppage time, Yago quickly drove into the penalty box, earning a penalty kick (PK) and taking the kick himself. His kick was saved by goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo, but he was able to slot home the second ball. In the end, the game ended with a 2-0 victory for Gangwon.