Suwon FC and Gangwon FC have been confirmed as the final two teams to compete in the K League 1 (1st Division) next season. They faced stiff challenges from Busan I-Park and Gimpo FC from the K League 2 (2), respectively, but held on to their K League 1 pride. As a result, only last-place Suwon Samsung and K League 2 champion Gimcheon Sangmu will be swapping places in the K League 1 next season.
Suwon FC, led by Kim Do-gyun, defeated Busan 5-2 in overtime in the second leg of the Hana OneQ K League Promotion Playoffs at Suwon Sports Complex on September 9. After losing the first leg 1-2 away from home, Suwon FC won 2-1 in regulation time to tie the game, then scored three more goals in overtime. The aggregate score was 6-4 in favor of Suwon FC.레모나토토 주소
It was a “come-from-behind drama” that overcame several adverse factors, including a loss in the first leg and an early goal in the second leg. In fact, when Suwon FC suffered a 1-2 reverse against Busan, the team seemed to be down and out. To make matters worse, Lee Seung-woo, the centerpiece of the offense, was sent off and the team had to play with a power leak in the second game. A must-win game. Suwon FC conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes of the second game. The combined score of the first and second leg was 1-3. Two goals were all they needed to stay in the tournament.
The rest of the match was dreadfully unlucky. Shots from Lopez and Yoon hit the post, and even a header from Lopez that found Yoon was ruled offside. By the 32nd minute of the second half, Suwon FC was trailing 1-3 on aggregate after the first leg. Slowly, the clouds of relegation seemed to be hanging over Suwon FC.
However, in the 33rd minute of the second half, Suwon FC began to fight back. The prelude to the counterattack came from Kim Hyun. He connected a ground ball pass from Kim Joo-yup with a powerful right-footed shot to ignite the chase. Then, in the 40th minute, Lee Young-jae split the corner of the opponent’s goal with a sharp left-footed shot. It was the second goal in a row for Suwon FC, which dramatically tied the game.
The match went into extra time. The momentum had already shifted in Suwon’s favor. Suwon FC pushed Busan hard from the beginning of the overtime period. Eventually, Lee Kwang-hyuk scored the game-winning goal five minutes into the extra period. He cut in from the right side of the penalty box to the center and finished with his left foot. Six minutes later, Jeong Jae-yong scored another goal after receiving a pass from Lopez. It was a moment when Suwon FC, which was trailing 1-3 in the first and second legs until midway through the second half of the day, suddenly turned the score to 5-3.
Busan made a last-ditch effort in the ninth minute of stoppage time with Kim Jung-hwan’s consolation goal, but Lopez struck just three minutes later. After Yoon Beom-garam’s mid-range shot was blocked by the goalkeeper, he rushed into the box and finished to drive a wedge into the match. In the end, the referee’s whistle blew for the final whistle, and the two teams were left with starkly different futures. Suwon FC dramatically stayed in the K League 1 and survived for a fourth consecutive season.
On the other hand, Busan, who were looking for their first promotion in four years, had to wait until next season. This was especially true after Busan led the way until the final game of the last regular season of the K League 2 and was on the verge of a direct promotion through the championship, only to fall short with a heartbreaking draw against Chungbuk Cheongju. This time, they were unable to hold on to the last spot in the promotion playoffs, and ultimately postponed their promotion challenge to next year.
Suwon FC vs Busan I-Park in the second leg of the professional soccer promotion playoffs at Suwon Sports Complex in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, on September 9. Suwon FC’s Kim Do-gyun and Lee Seung-woo celebrate after the team won 5-2 to stay in the K League
After the win, coach Kim Do-gyun slumped to the ground and burst into tears. “Anyone in my position would have cried,” Kim said. We had a tough season this season. It was a hard season for everyone. The players, the club family, and the fans must have had a very difficult time. I felt very sorry and apologetic, but I also felt very grateful. The fans who came to the stadium and supported us until the end gave us strength. It was a driving force for me to stay. Many things came to mind. That’s why I cried,” he said.
He continued, “The players showed their fighting spirit. They didn’t give up and played to the end. I think it was a miracle. It wasn’t an easy game. We conceded the first goal and it was difficult, but the guys played well in the second half. All the players showed a lot of heart in today’s match. I think that’s what won us the game today. At 4-2 in overtime, when you think, ‘We can’t concede,’ we conceded. Fortunately, we scored another goal (in three minutes). That’s when I felt relieved (about staying up),” he smiled.
On the other hand, Park Jin-seop, who missed out on both promotion chances, said, “The players did more than expected for a year to get here, and I think that’s why we were able to get here. I want to praise the players for that, and I want to thank them. Anyway, the challenge is over, but we’ll do a good job and make sure we’re a team that can challenge for promotion again next year.”
This is the fourth consecutive season that Suwon FC has competed in the K League 1 since 2021. Busan I-Park, on the other hand, last played in the K League 1 in 2020 and will be playing in the K League 2 for the fourth season in a row since 2021, aiming for ‘promotion’. Busan also has the humiliating history of being the first corporate club to be relegated and the first team to win a K League title.
The same day at Gangneung Sports Complex, there was a stark contrast in fortunes as Gangwon and Gimpo played a guillotine match in the relegation playoffs. After a scoreless draw in the first leg, the two teams remained scoreless in the second leg until the end of the first half.
It was Gabriel, a foreign striker from Brazil, who decided the game. After dribbling from the left side of the penalty box to the center, he connected with a powerful right-footed mid-range shot from the front of the arc, shaking the Gimpo goal, which had been tightly closed until the first half of the second period. Gabriel, who had been disappointing in the regular season with just three goals and one assist in 14 appearances, stepped up to the plate in the crucial promotion playoff stage.
Gangwon’s lead was short-lived, however. They conceded the equalizer just eight minutes after the opening goal. After a free kick, a scramble in the box resulted in Cho Sung-kwon connecting with a left-footed turnover in the box. The game was back to square one.
In the 25th minute of the second half, a decisive factor came into play. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) confirmed a foul on Lewis, the top scorer in K League 2 this season (17 goals), when he struck an opponent with his elbow during a contested corner kick. The referee showed Lewis a red card. It was the biggest call of the second leg of the relegation playoffs.
Gangwon capitalized on their numerical advantage. In the 30th minute, Hwang Moon-ki’s cross from the right flank was finished by Gabriel. Gabriel connected with a non-stop right-footed shot to rattle the Gimpo net again and complete his multi-goal haul. It was a golden goal that gave the team another lead.
Pushed to the brink, Gimpo pushed for one last dramatic equalizer, but it didn’t come to fruition. Even the goalkeeper was involved in the attack during the corner kick in extra time, but to no avail. In the end, the referee blew the final whistle and the game ended with a 2-1 victory for Gangwon. With a 2-1 victory in the first and second games, Gangwon will continue to dominate the K League 1 stage next season.
Gangwon has been in the K League 1 for eight consecutive seasons since the 2017 season. They survived the relegation playoffs again in 2021 after dramatically staying up against Daejeon Hana Citizens. Gimpo, on the other hand, had hoped to pull off another miracle by reaching the promotion playoffs in their second year as professionals, but they had to wait until next season. Gimpo finished eighth in the league last year, their first professional season, but this year they finished third and made it through the K League 2 playoffs to the relegation playoffs.
As a result, the two relegation playoff brackets – pitting K League 1 11th-ranked Suwon FC against K League 2 runner-up Busan and K League 1 10th-ranked Gangwon against K League 2 playoff (3-5) winners Gimpo – both ended with victories for K League 1 teams. Defending K League 2 champion Gimpo secured direct promotion to K League 1 next season, while Suwon was relegated to K League 2 for the first time in its history. In a season where up to 1+2 teams could have been promoted and relegated, respectively. Only Gimcheon and Suwon’s fates were mixed.