Nine-time professional soccer K League 1 champion Jeonbuk Hyundai earned a hard-fought victory over defending Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC in the first round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) group stage.
Jeonbuk broke a 1-1 tie with Kitsch in the first leg of their 2023-2024 ACL Group F match at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on Tuesday, winning 2-1 thanks to Han Gyo-won’s game-winning goal in the 16th minute of stoppage time.
Jeonbuk had converted a set-piece opportunity six minutes after kickoff.
Jun Amano sent a free kick into the box from the left midfield of the Kitsch camp, and central defender Hong Jeong-ho, who was involved in the attack, rose up and redirected the ball into the net.
With the early goal, Jeonbuk stepped up their offense.
Jeonbuk had a chance in the 16th minute when Jun Amano’s left-footed free kick from the right side of the penalty area was saved by the outstretched goalkeeper’s fingertips just before it hit the left corner of the Kitsch goal.
In the 37th minute, Moon Sun-min stepped up to take a free-kick opportunity from the left side of the penalty area, but the ball sailed over the crossbar.
With the score at 1-0, Jeonbuk was rattled by a Kitchee counterattack early in the second half in the pouring rain.
After a super save from goalkeeper Jung Min-ki on a right-footed shot by Ozeni Onazi in the fifth minute of the second half, Jeonbuk finally found the equalizer in the 11th minute through an overhead kick from Kitsch’s Michael.
Mikael attempted an overhead kick near the left endline of the goal area that curved into the Jeonbuk goal.
However, Jeonbuk did not go down easily, and in the 16th minute of the second half, Han Gyo-won scored again to turn the game around.
After Jun Amano’s left-footed shot from the penalty spot deflected off a defender, Han picked up the ball on the right side of the penalty area and slotted the ball into the left corner of the Kitsch goal with an exquisite right-footed shot.
Han’s goal proved to be the game-winner.
Jeonbuk had a chance in the 43rd minute when Moon Sun-min rushed onto a ball dropped by Gustavo on the left side of the penalty area and confronted the goalkeeper, but he was unable to get a shot off, and the game was settled with a one-goal victory without further scoring. 토토