Motors run over Ulsan to reach final
ULSAN – Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors overturned a 3-2 home defeat to book their ticket to the 2006 AFC Champions League final after a stunning 4-1 second leg win at the Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium on Wednesday gave them a 6-4 aggregate victory over their K-League rivals.
Jeonbuk went into the interval having swung the tie in their favour thanks to headers from Choi Jin-cheul and Chung Jung-kwan. Lim You-hwan made it 3-0 and while Lee Chun-soo gave Ulsan hope of salvaging the tie, Lee Kwang-hyeon capped a stunning 4-1 victory for the visitors.
The pre-match buzz had centred around the possible start of Korea Republic international Lee Chun-soo, who has been sidelined recently on account of a niggling ankle injury.
And sure enough the former Real Sociedad and Numancia striker was back in the starting 11 at the expense of midfielder Lee Sang-ho, the only change from the side that began the first leg win in Jeonju.
Jeonbuk, meanwhile, made two changes to their line-up with Jeon Kwang-hwan and Kim Jae-young making way for defender Kim Inho and midfielder Kim Hyeung-bum, the club’s leading scorer in the ACL with five goals in as many appearances, who was available again following his two-match suspension for violent conduct earned after his sending off in the quarter-final first leg win over Shanghai Shenhua.
With Jeonbuk needing to win 2-0 to advance or 3-2 to force extra-time, the visitors needed an early goal and that came following a ninth minute corner, when veteran defender Choi Jin-cheul’s unorthodox downward header bounced over static Ulsan keeper Kim Jee-hyuk and into the net.
The tie may have been level on aggregate but Ulsan still held the upper hand with their away-goals advantage so the Motors kept their foot on the gas and within 10 minutes they had made it 2-0.
Lee Jong-min’s cynical foul on Kim Hyeung-bum earned the Ulsan the second yellow card of the game – following Jeonbuk midfielder Kwon Jip’s 14th minute entry into referee Shamsul Maidin’s book – but more saliently it earned the visitors a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Choi Chul-soon whipped the ball in from the left and it was headed home at the far post by Chung Jung-kwan as the tie swung in Jeonbuk’s favour.
Ulsan fought back hard and in the 24th minute Leandro drew a fine diving save from Kwoun Sun-tae before the Jeonbuk keeper spectacularly tipped over a long range effort from Park Kyu-seon as the resulting corner from the Brazilian’s shot found its way to the Ulsan midfielder.
Two minutes later an intelligent knockdown put Lee Chun-soo through on goal but the charismatic striker’s lack of match sharpness told as he blasted the ball wildly over the crossbar.
Ulsan knew that their hopes of a place in November’s ACL final rested on them finding the Jeonbuk net and they began the second half in cavalier fashion.
Lee Jong-min’s 56th minute half-volley was well-saved by Kwoun before the ball somehow stayed out of the net after it spun off a Jeonbuk defender in the six-yard area following some tenacious play on the touchline from Lee Sang-ho, who came on for Kim Young-sam three minutes before the break.
Jeonbuk looked to have sealed their place in the final in the 67th minute when, during a rare counter-attack, substitute Lim You-hwan swept home the Korean FA Cup winners’ third to make it 3-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate.
But their celebrations were curtailed just two minutes later when golden boy Lee Chun-soo collected an intelligent reverse pass from Leandro and kept his composure to sweep the ball past Kwoun.
Another Ulsan goal would force extra-time but as they pushed forward they were leaving gaps at the back and the hosts needed a fine one-handed save from Kim Jee-hyuk to prevent a 75th Ze Carlo header undoing all their good work.
The Brazilian should have scored Jeonbuk’s fourth five minutes later, after a Lee Chun-soo free-kick had drawn a nervous punch out from Kwoun and Leandro had flashed an angled drive agonizingly across the face of goal.
However, after Ze Carlo’s close range shot had been put out for a corner, Lee Kwang-hyeon, a 52nd minute substitute for ACL veteran Botti, bundled home the resultant flag-kick to make it 4-1 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate.
Park Dong-hyuk’s frustration boiled over as the Ulsan defender was shown a straight red for lashing out at Ze Carlo in the first of the five minutes of injury-time before it was the Brazilian’s turn to show his anger 60 seconds later, giving team-mate Kim Hyeung-bum a piece of his mind after the midfielder failed to pass the ball to the unmarked striker.
It mattered little as it was the last action in a stunning win for Jeonbuk, who will host the first leg of the final on November 1 before the action moves to the Middle East a week later.