Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Seongnam 4-1 Suwon in all-Korean Asian Champions League quarterfinal

Seongnam Ilhwa beat fellow South Korean K-League side Suwon Samsung Bluewings 4-1 tonight in their first-leg Asian Champions League quarterfinal at the Tancheon Sports Complex in Seongnam, South Korea.

The match was played on an appalling pitch.

How the Asian Football Confederation, or the referee from Qatar, could allow the match to be played on such a surface is simply amazing.

The pitch resembled a patchwork quilt. Areas of smooth green grass were interspersed with large brown areas of stubble which resembled village wasteland. When the ball was stationary in these latter areas, it was perfectly camouflaged.

Indeed, when Seongnam’s highly-gifted Colombian striker, Mauricio Molina, took a corner in the second half, the pitch gave way on his non-kicking foot and, to his horror, he clipped the ball high into the stand instead of swinging it towards the goalmouth.

Former Adelaide United defender Sasa Ognenovski and Cho Byung-Kuk were excellent at the back for the home side, especially in the air. But, Ognenovski should probably have had a penalty awarded against him in the second half when he pushed Suwon’s Brazilian striker Jose Mota inside the box, but the referee ignored the appeal.

Near the end, Suwon had another penalty appeal denied as they fought strongly to reduce the deficit.

Seongnam took the lead in the 8th minute after their Montenegro striker Dzenan Radonic broke down the left and cut inside before having his shot deflected slightly and beating the goalkeeper at his near post.

Suwon were level in the 17th minute when Yeom Ki-Hun scored with a fine left-footed free-kick from just outside the box on the right.

They almost took the lead two minutes later when Ki-Hun’s shot was parried by the keeper straight to Ha Tae-Goon, but he fired over the bar when he should have scored.

In the 28th minute, Radonic was denied by a last-ditch tackle from a Suwon defender.

Molina gave the home side a 2-1 lead in the 33rd minute following an Ognenovski free-kick from midfield. Radonic’s header was diverted wide to the right by a defender and, when Kim Cheol-Ho cut the ball back across the face of goal, the Colombian smashed it into the net from close range.

Seven minutes after the interval, a long ball from the half-way line by Suwon found Lee Sang-Ho on the right-side of the box. He cut it inside to Ha Tae-Goon, who placed his shot wide.

Four minutes later, Radonic missed a great chance for the home side when Song Ho-Young found him with a pass from the right, but the Montenegro striker shot wide of the target.

Seongnam missed an excellent chance in the 59th minute when Molina’s shot was parried by the keeper straight to the unmarked Song Ho-Young, who somehow headed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

The Bluewings were far from grounded, however, and in the 64th minute, substitute Shin Young-Rok nodded the ball just wide.

Their profligacy was punished three minutes later when Song Ho-Young’s deflected cross from the left flew to the limping Radonic. He recovered instantly as he saw the cross coming and powered a header into the net from 12 metres to give the home side a 3-1 lead.

The visitors struck back almost immediately and, in the 72nd minute, substitute Shin Young-Rok had another chance, but his shot hit the outside of the left-hand upright and went out for a goal-kick.

It was end-to-end play now and 8 minutes from the final whistle Seongnam substitute Cho Dong-Geon had a marvellous shot saved by the Bluewings keeper.

Seongnam hit back again and made it 4-1 in the 84th minute, although it was courtesy of an own-goal. Kim Cheol-Ho threaded the ball through to the right of the box and Yang Sang-Min, under pressure from Song Ho-Young, diverted the ball past his own keeper.

The game ended with Suwon on the attack and Yeom Ki-Hun had a great shot turned wide for a corner in the 87th minute, while in the 90th minute, Mota fired just wide with an excellent shot.

The sides meet again next week, but a 4-1 lead will be difficult to overtake.

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