‘Four stars on my chest’ Ulsan wins second straight K League title…Hong Myung-bo loses second straight as coach

Ulsan Hyundai has won its fourth K League title스포츠토토, the last two under head coach Hong Myung-bo.

With a 2-0 victory over Daegu FC in the 35th round of the Hana One Q K League 1 2023 at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, South Korea, at 2 p.m. on Monday, Ulsan Hyundai accumulated 70 points. The gap to second-place Pohang Steelers (60 points) widened to 10 points. Even if Ulsan loses all three of its remaining games, the top spot will remain unchanged.

The defending champions are back at the top of K League 1 for the 2023 season. It was their second consecutive title and fourth overall, following the 2022 season. This is the first time in the club’s history that Ulsan has won back-to-back K League titles. Ulsan previously won the title in 1996 and 2005. The team can now wear four stars (★★★★) on the chest of their jerseys.

Against Daegu, Ulsan started Martin Adam, Bako, Kang Yoon-Koo, Uhm Won-Sang, Kim Sung-Joon, Lee Cheong-Yong, Lee Myung-Jae, Kim Young-Kwon, Kim Ki-Hee, Seol Young-Woo, and Cho Hyun-Woo. On the bench, Lee In-gyu, Ataru, Lee Kyu-sung, Kim Min-hyuk, Jang Si-young, Jung Seung-hyun, and Cho Soo-hyuk came off the bench.

Kim Min-hyuk’s first goal ceremony/Korea Professional Football Association

Kim Min-hyuk’s goal celebration/Korea Football Organization

The first goal came in the 24th minute of the second half, when Ataru sent in a cross from the left flank that Kim Min-hyuk finished with a header. The 0-0 balance was broken and a nervous battle ensued. Martin Adam raised his foot high to block the path of Daegu goalkeeper Oh Seung-hoon, causing friction. Both Martin Adam and Oh Seung-hoon received a yellow card.

Ulsan took off Martin Adam, Lee Cheong-yong, and Uhm Won-sang in the 40th minute to bring on Lee In-gyu, Lee Kyu-sung, and Jang Si-young. Rookie Jang Si-young scored the game-winning goal in the 45th minute off a pass from Lee In-jong-gyu. “Goodbye!” cheers from the Ulsan fans, who were convinced of the victory, filled the Munsuguro Stadium.

When the final whistle blew, celebrations erupted. Coach Hong Myung-bo was all smiles as he celebrated his second consecutive victory. Ulsan fans stayed in the stadium for a long time to celebrate the victory. The players were also busy taking pictures with their families and fans.

Ulsan Hyundai breaks 300,000 single-season attendance mark/Korea Professional Football League

18,933 fans attended the match against Daegu, where Ulsan clinched the title. It was the first time in the club’s history that Ulsan surpassed 300,000 home attendance in a single season. Before Daegu, Ulsan had averaged 17,592 fans in its 16 home games this season, which was a box office hit.

Ulsan has two more home games remaining. They are scheduled for December 12 against Pohang and December 3 against Jeonbuk Hyundai. If around 79,100 people attend these two games, the average attendance will exceed 20,000. Given the nature of the East Coast derby against Pohang and the Hyundai derby against Jeonbuk, this is not an impossible goal.

With three games to go until the end of the season, the winner has been declared early, but there is still a race for second through fourth place. Pohang (60 points), Gwangju FC (57 points), and Jeonbuk (53 points) are tied for second, third, and fourth. Ulsan’s performance in the remaining matches could determine the final position of the other clubs.

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