(LEAD) Jeonbuk edge out rivals Ulsan to inch toward K League title

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By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) — Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors defeated archrivals Ulsan Hyundai FC 3-2 on Saturday to move closer to an unprecedented fifth consecutive South Korean football title.
Stanislav Iljutcenko headed in the winner just seconds from the final whistle in front of home supporters at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, some 240 kilometers south of Seoul. Jeonbuk remained atop the K League 1 tables and have now opened up a three-point lead over Ulsan at 70-67 with three matches remaining.
Iljutcenko, who scored only five minutes after entering the match, now leads his team with 15 goals.

The two clubs entered Saturday’s match tied at 67 points, with Jeonbuk holding the tiebreak edge in goals, 62-57.
Following Saturday’s win, Jeonbuk control their own destiny over the remainder of the season. Ulsan essentially have to win their remaining three matches and will need help from Jeonbuk’s upcoming opponents.
The difference in the goals department also increased to six at 65-59, virtually insurmountable over the next three matches considering Jeonbuk’s firepower.
Daegu FC sit in a distant third with 52 points and cannot catch up to either Jeonbuk or Ulsan the rest of the season.
Jeonbuk extended their undefeated streak to nine matches. Ulsan have lost two out of their past three games. Jeonbuk and Ulsan finished first and second in each of the past two seasons. Jeonbuk are now taking aim at a historic fifth consecutive title. Ulsan haven’t won a league championship since 2005 and have been the runner-up a record nine times.

Jeonbuk opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, courtesy of Song Min-kyu.
After Takahiro Kunimoto’s free kick from outside the box, goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo failed to control Hong Jeong-ho’s volley attempt. The loose ball bounced to Song, who was wide open to the right of the goalkeeper and easily scored into the open net.
Ulsan leveled the score 14 minutes later, as Lim Jong-eun headed home a corner taken by Lee Dong-gyeong.
Jeonbuk went out in front again in the 65th minute. Kim Kee-hee’s clearing attempt on Kunimoto’s cross went right to Paik Seung-ho, who stepped into a shot. It bounced off defender Kim Tae-hwan, and Ryu Jae-moon fired a spinning shot into the right corner for a 2-1 lead.

Ulsan’s veteran midfielder Lee Chung-yong netted the equalizer in the 78th minute, a dozen minutes after coming off the bench. While trying to stop a header by Lim Jong-eun, Jeonbuk goalkeeper Song Bum-keun collided with Ulsan forward Lee Dong-jun and fell. Lee Chung-yong then pounced on the loose ball and shot it past the prone goalkeeper.
The teams each had a late chance to take the lead. For Ulsan, Lee Dong-jun danced his way deep into the right side of the box in the 87th minute and sent a low shot only inches wide of the far post.
Early in injury time, Jeonbuk forward Mo Barrow was robbed on consecutive shots by Jo in the Ulsan net.
The match appeared destined for a spirited draw, but Jeonbuk had one more goal left in them.

From the left wing, Kunimoto, the league’s reigning Player of the Week, sent a gorgeous cross to the heart of the box. Iljutcenko timed his dive perfectly as he headed the ball into the right side for the improbable finish in the entertaining contest.
This was Jeonbuk’s first win over Ulsan this season, after taking a loss and two draws in previous meetings. Jeonbuk also lost to Ulsan in the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League last month.
“We finally got our payback tonight,” Jeonbuk head coach Kim Sang-sik said. “But we want to have the last laugh at the end of the season. That’s what true champions do.”
The match drew 11,383 fans, a record crowd in the K League 1 this season. Sports stadiums opened back up this week as part of South Korea’s phased return to normalcy during the pandemic. K League clubs had played most of the season either at empty stadiums or in front of much smaller crowds under tight restrictions.
“Winning in front of such a huge crowd makes this so much sweeter,” Kim said. “Our fans have been supportive all season long, and I hope to see more of them in upcoming matches.”
Jeonbuk’s next match is against Suwon FC on Nov. 21. Ulsan will next play Jeju United on the same day.
jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)
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