FC Seoul v Jeonbuk Motors, Saturday 2nd April 2011, 5pm

I’d been on holiday in the UK for a couple of weeks at the back end of March so this was my first game of Korean football since watching Jeonbuk lose at home to Chunnam Dragons a month earlier. The day had started a little bit earlier than I’d hoped though. I’d been doing some hiking the day before in Seoraksan National Park and my hotel room was so warm that I’d needed to leave a window open. Unfortunately there was a monastery right next door and at three in the morning one of the monks had started with that rhythmic banging noise created by hitting a wooden object with a stick.

Why don't they all just quietly light candles like this one?

The racket went on for a couple of hours before he went off to do whatever it is that monks do when they aren’t disturbing their neighbours and I finally got back off to sleep. I took a taxi into Sokcho later in the morning and then caught the ten thirty bus to Seoul.

The subway at the stadium didn’t seem as busy as normal, perhaps as a consequence of last season’s champions Seoul having made such a poor start to the season with just a single point from their first three games. I paid fourteen thousand won for a ticket in the East Stand, mainly because you get a better view of the cheerleaders from there. It seemed that most other people had the same idea as apart from a couple of thousand Seoul fans in the North Lower, the rest of the ground was virtually empty. There were about a hundred and fifty Jeonbuk fans behind the goal to my left and oddly enough , a few more Jeonbuk fans in the East Stand.

He looks a little out of place, perhaps he wanted a decent view of the cheerleaders too.

Lee Dong Gook, who had scored twice for Jeonbuk in their previous game, started as the lone striker, with Luiz Henrique and Eninho in support. The early chances all went Jeonbuk’s way with The Lion King missing one after ten minutes when he failed to make a clean contact with a cross before later having a shot from the edge of the box deflected for a corner.

Seoul were looking fairly solid though with Adilson generally taking care of things at the back. He’d had a change in his haircut from last season, perhaps to try and distance himself from the masks bearing his likeness that were handed out to fans. After about twenty minutes the home side took the lead when their new signing from Seongnam, Molina, played in Dejan Damjanovic who rolled the ball past the Jeonbuk goalie.

1-0

A minute later Molina doubled his team’s lead, notching his first K-League goal for Seoul by lobbing the advancing keeper with a well-taken finish. Seoul were well on top at this stage and with Djeparov firing a shot just wide could easily have finished the game off. The first half ended with Adilson finally picking up a booking for his dodgy haircut, although Jeonbuk failed to take advantage of the subsequent free-kick.

Adilson

A team-mate ushers Adilson away from the ref and back to the barber.

I don’t remember the Seoul keeper having to make a save in the first half. Mind you, I don’t think the Jeonbuk goalie made one either. During the interval we were ’treated’ to a couple of songs from someone dressed up in a Disney Princess costume.

Time for a Bovril.

Jeonbuk were a bit more adventurous in the second half, bringing on Krunoslav Lovrek shortly after the break to partner Lee Dong Gook up front. It eventually paid dividends, with Middlesbrough’s greatest ever Korean player turning in a cross from the left to pull a goal back for his current club.

And then they nearly equalised.

We looked set for an interesting last ten minutes, or at least we did until Dejan Damjanovic restored his team’s two goal advantage by following up after his initial header was saved and putting the rebound away.

Soon to be 3-1.

All that was left was to marvel at the cheek of whoever decides the attendance figure. It was announced on the big screen as 27,406 whereas I’d have estimated the crowd to be somewhere between eight and ten thousand. The win moved Seoul up into eleventh place after four games of the season, whilst Jeonbuk dropped down to ninth.

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