“If only every K-League match could be played with the same intensity and attack-minded approaches then we wouldn’t be seeing ghostly silent stadiums with cheerleaders playing to empty rows”. These were the thoughts running through my mind both during and after what was an entertaining and often pulsating match as FC Seoul fell to their Gyeongin Derby rivals for the 2nd time in three games leaving Seoul without a win over Incheon this season.
It was a freezing day in Seoul which started with snow and ended with boos raining down on the Capital’s footballing team as they continued their slide towards a potential playoff spot as the prospect of a 2019 Seoul Derby in K-League Two becomes ever so slightly less of a pipe-dream. The game started a break-neck pace, which would be the way it would continue for the majority of the match, and it took only 7 minutes for the deadlock to be broken as Han Suk-jong pounced onto a headed clearance from a corner in the Seoul box and curled a shot past a rather static defence and a wrong footed Yang Han-bin in goals. The Incheon fans could barely believe their eyes and erupted into celebrations as dreams of victory and survival filled their heads. Both sides would throw everything at the game and attacked relentlessly but a combination of goalkeeping heroics and poor choices would keep the scoreline at 0-1 come the referee’s belated HT whistle.
As the 2nd half started Seoul, quite predictably, came out the blocks attacking and looked far more purposeful than the first half. They had a couple of gilt-edged chances as first Park Chu-young headed wide before Yun Ju-tae stung the keeper’s hands with a volley. They began pouring forward in droves and you got the feeling that a goal was only minutes away, but then again this is 2018 Seoul and they are a far cry from Choi Yong-soo’s first charges back in 2014. As attack after attack amounted to nothing Incheon grew in confidence, first at the back, then in the middle as they began to probe the holes left in Seoul’s rearguard. They introduced both Mugosa and Kubi around the hour mark and it was the latter who had chances to put the game to bed as he tormented Seoul’s stretched backline time and time again.
In the end, there would be no more goals as Incheon comfortably saw the game out and secured potentially three of the biggest points in their club’s history. They looked unplayable at times with flicks and turns and backheels creating space and, more often than not, leaving a red and black shirt looking lost. Do they deserve to stay up? Yes. Are they playing the best football in the league? Perhaps. Will they be playing it in the K-League One next year? We’ll find out next weekend as the curtain falls on another K-League year…..one which Seoul fans will want to forget regardless of the scores