Pohang Steelers came from behind at home to stay unbeaten in four group games.
Pohang conceded an early goal in their 2023/24 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) Group J fourth leg against Urawa Red Diamonds at the Pohang Steelyard on Monday, but overcame a 21st-minute penalty kick equalizer from Zeca and a stoppage-time winner from Kim In-sung to earn a thrilling 2-1 victory.토토사이트
The 2023 FA Cup champions were drawn in Group J alongside Wuhan Shandong (China), Hanoi (Vietnam) and defending champions Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan) in this season’s ACL group stage. Heading into the match, Pohang had won all three of their group games to top the group.
On the day, Pohang had a numerical advantage as Urawa had one player sent off, but the team bounced back with the help of their home fans to win all four of their group matches and move to 12 points. Urawa, on the other hand, dropped both games in Pohang to remain on four points (W1 D1 L2).
The home team Pohang lined up in a 4-2-3-1. Hwang In-jae was in goal, while Park Seung-wook, Grant, Park Chan-yong, and Shin Kwang-hoon made up the back four. Han Chan-hee and Kim Jun-ho guarded the third line, while Hong Yun-sang, Yoon Jae-woon, and Ko Young-joon lined up in the second line. Lee Ho-jae started up front.
Against Urawa, the visitors lined up in a 4-4-2. Shusaku Nishikawa donned the goalkeeping gloves, while Takuya Ogiwara, Marius Huybroten, Takuya Iwanami, and Kaito Yasui formed the back four. Yoshio Koizumi, Ken Iwao, Atsuki Ito, and Takahiro Akimoto were in the midfield, while Ekanit Fanya and Jose Cante were up front for Pohang.
Pohang head coach Kim Ki-dong rotated some positions on the day, including Zeca, who has two goals and three assists in three games in the ACL this season. Pohang has been on a roll since the October A-Match break, playing five games in about two weeks. They played the FA Cup final against Jeonbuk just four days ago.
“The players were so tired that I had to rotate them, but it was also a Korea-Japan match, so I was worried,” Kim told reporters before the game, “I decided to trust the young players in the first half. If we don’t give them a chance at this time, when will they grow. I’m going to make changes based on the situation,” he said, explaining the reasoning behind the lineup decision.
The game was played in chilly conditions, and the Urawa fans, who are known for their enthusiasm, traveled to Pohang to show their support. Although not a large number, the Urawa fans sang songs from the start of the game to encourage the players.
Coach Kim was also impressed with the Urawa fans’ support. “What impressed me was that they didn’t stop cheering even though we were down 0-2,” Kim said, recalling the third group game against Urawa, which they won 2-0 in Japan on March 24.
“We (Pohang) have a lot of fans, so I think the atmosphere will be fine,” he said, adding that he expects support from the home fans. The Pohang home fans also cheered hard in the cold weather so as not to lose to the Urawa away fans.
With their enthusiastic support, Urawa pushed Pohang forward, scoring a goal just 40 seconds into the first half. Akimoto’s cross from the right sideline was met by Guinea striker Kante with a header that was headed straight at the goalkeeper, but Hwang In-jae made a safe catch.
Urawa continued to attack. In the ninth minute, Thai striker Panya fired a long-range shot that was also straight at the keeper and into the arms of Hwang In-Jae. Two minutes later, Kante tried his luck just outside the penalty box, but his shot deflected off a Pohang defender and was easily saved by Hwang In-jae.
From the 30th minute onward, Pohang also increased their attacks and gradually picked up the pace. Pohang earned a free kick opportunity on the right flank, and Ko Young-joon was the kicker. Ko sent a high cross into the box, which was met by Lee Ho-jae’s head, but the shot went wide of the goal, leading to a goal kick by Urawa.
Soon after, Pohang pressed forward and had a great chance to take the lead. Go Young-joon touched a backward pass from Urawa, and the ball found its way to 2002-born prospect Kim Jun-ho. After receiving the ball, Kim Jun-ho stepped into the box and boldly fired a right-footed shot toward the far post, but the shot went wide of the goal.
As the ball sailed wide of the post, Junho dropped to his knees in disappointment. Coach Kim Ki-dong could not hide his face from the bench as his son failed to capitalize on the crucial goal.
As the game remained tense, it was Urawa who broke the 0-0 tie. In the 36th minute of the first half, a long pass from the back found Fanya in the box on a Urawa counterattack. After catching the ball on the left flank, Fanya sent an accurate pass to Kante in the box, and Kante calmly shook the Pohang goal with a left-footed shot to take the lead.
After conceding the early goal, Pohang fought hard to equalize. They had one good chance in the box in the 40th minute, but Urawa’s intense defense prevented it. In the box, Ko Young-joon tried to play a cutback pass in front of the goal, but Ogiwara was one step ahead of him and prevented him from getting a shot off. On the second ball, midfielder Iwao, who wore the captain’s armband on the day, got to the ball before Lee Ho-jae and cleared it out of the box.
With two minutes of first-half stoppage time, Pohang got its final chance of the half after a defensive error by Urawa. Urawa defender Hoe Ibroten blocked a cross from Ko Young-joon on the right side with his foot, but the ball bounced off his foot and into the path of Hong Yun-sang on the other side. Hong Yun-sang quickly took a shot on goal, but Nishikawa was quick to come out and narrow the angle of the shot to prevent Pohang from scoring.
On Pohang’s subsequent corner kick, Nishikawa punched the ball out of the box and Han Chan-hee connected with a volley, but it was also headed out of the goal and was not an effective shot.
Pohang finished the first half 0-1 as the halftime whistle blew.
As soon as the second half started, Pohang made three substitutions. They brought on Lee Ho-jae, Kim Jun-ho, and Shin Kwang-hoon, and brought on Zeca, Kim Jong-woo, and Shim Sang-min, putting their main players on the field.
Urawa continued their onslaught in the second half by raising their line high. Fanya intercepted a pass in the middle of the Pohang area with strong forward pressure and fired a right-footed shot. The shot was somewhat inaccurate and went wide of the goal.
In the seventh minute of the second half, Pohang once again missed a golden opportunity to score. After receiving a pass from Hong Yun-sang, Ko Young-joon entered the box and sent a left-footed cross from the left side, which was precisely headed towards Yoon Jae-woon, who was rushing in front of the goal. Yoon managed to get his foot on the ball, but failed to get a good touch and put the ball into the goal. As the ball sailed high and out of bounds, Yoon collapsed and held his head in disappointment.
In the 10th minute of the second half, Ko Young-joon won a free kick in a good position on a counterattack. At this time, Ito was cautioned for protesting to the referee. Kim Jong-woo stepped up to take the free kick, but instead of taking a cross, he took a shot directly at the goal, but his bold shot didn’t go in, leading to Urawa’s goal kick.
In the 14th minute of the second half, Pohang made one more substitution. They took out Yoon Jae-woon and put in captain Kim Seung-dae, showing their desire to win.
In the 19th minute of the second half, Pohang was awarded a penalty kick and had a golden opportunity to finally equalize. Park Chan-yong was cautioned for a foul while blocking an attack from Urawa, and the video assistant referee (VAR) was activated, creating a strange atmosphere on the field.
Before Urawa could attack, Hong Yun-sang’s cross into the box hit defender Huybroten and didn’t reach Zeca, but the VAR room captured a shot that hit Huybroten’s arm and alerted the referee.
If it was a handball, Pohang would be awarded a penalty kick. The referee went off the touchline and checked the footage on his monitor and decided that it was a handball and awarded Pohang a penalty kick. He also canceled the warning given to Park Chan-yong earlier.
It was Zeca who took the penalty kick in the second half. With everyone watching closely to see if the penalty kick would be successful, Zeca stepped up and perfectly fooled the goalkeeper with a shot that rattled the net to make the score 1-1. Zeca led the Pohang offense with three goals and three assists in four games in the ACL this season.
After conceding the equalizer, Urawa was quickly outnumbered and sent off. In the 25th minute of the second half, Urawa winger Akimoto made a dangerous tackle from behind to stop Ko Young-joon, and the referee immediately warned Akimoto.
The VAR room then asked the referee to take a look at the play himself, as Akimoto’s foot was directed towards Ko’s calf. The referee once again stepped off the touchline to take a closer look at the play, then approached Akimoto, canceled his earlier warning, showed him a red card, and ordered a direct ejection.
Pohang was able to play out the rest of the game with numerical superiority, but it was no laughing matter. After a heavy tackle from Akimoto, Ko Young-jun was unable to get up and had to be stretchered off the field. Pohang brought on Kim In-sung to replace Ko Young-joon, who was unable to play due to injury.
Despite having the numerical advantage, Pohang was unable to open up the Urawa goal. As the regular time ran out, the game went into second half extra time. In the second half, VAR readings took up a significant amount of time, resulting in a whopping nine minutes of extra time.
Pohang, who didn’t give up until the end, finally turned the game around. A cross from inside the box was cleared off the line by the goalkeeper, and the ball found its way to Kim In-sung, who was right in front of the goal. Kim immediately slotted the ball into the back of the net to make the score 2-1.
Kim In-sung’s late goal in stoppage time gave Pohang a thrilling 2-1 victory and their fourth straight win in the group stage.