Incheon Utd ‘leapfrog’ Yokohama with 2-1 win…one step closer to ACL round of 16

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Professional soccer K League 1 side Incheon United FC moved one step closer to reaching the round of 16 in the inaugural Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) with a win over Yokohama.

Incheon United defeated Yokohama F. Marinos 2-1 in the fifth match of Group G of the ACL Group Stage of the 2023-2024 season at the Incheon Football Stadium in Jung-gu, Seoul at 7 p.m. on Monday.

With the win, Incheon United moved into second place, knocking Yokohama (3W-1D-9P) out of first place. Incheon had previously defeated Yokohama 4-2 in the first leg in September. In the ACL Group Stage (Groups F through J), the top three teams from each group, including the first-place team and the second-place team, will advance to the Round of 16.

Incheon United lined up in a 3-4-3 formation, similar to the lineup they used in their 3-1 win over defending K League 1 champions Ulsan Hyundai.

Chun Sung-hoon was the center of the attack, flanked by Kim Bo-seob and Park Seung-ho. In the midfield, Choi Woo-jin, Kim Do-hyuk, Park Hyun-bin, and Hong Si-hoo started. In defense, Oh Ban-seok, Kim Dong-min, Kim Yeon-soo, and Kim Dong-heon guarded the goal.

Incheon United started well in the first half and began to push Yokohama back. Park Seung-ho and Hong Si-hoo, who scored their debut goals in the previous match against Ulsan and earned MVP honors, showed off their aggressive play in this match as well.

Incheon United took the lead in the 11th minute when Kim Bo-seob outraced Yokohama and sprinted down the flank before passing to Park Seung-ho, who shot at goal but was blocked by the defense. The bouncing ball found its way to Hong Si-hoo, who shot again and rattled Yokohama’s net for the first goal.

Kim Dong-heon pulled off a super save as Yokohama pushed Incheon hard in response. He saved a header from Yokohama with his hand to end the first half at 1-0.

Incheon United took off Park Hyun-bin in the seventh minute of the second half to bring on Hernandez in an attempt to turn the tide.

Incheon United added another goal in the 22nd minute of the second half through Hernandez. Kim Do-hyuk strongly cut off Yokohama’s ball, and Hernandez slid the ball in at the same time as Kim Bo-seop’s ground ball cross to make it 2-0. Especially, Hernandez earned the nickname “Yokohama Killer” by scoring his third goal against Yokohama.

In the 38th minute of the second half, Yokohama made up for the deficit with a surprise header from a corner kick. However, Incheon held off Yokohama’s attack until the sixth minute of added time and eventually won 2-1.

Head coach Cho Sung-hwan said, “I’m glad we were able to win the last home game of the season with our fans. We did our best with the goal of passing the group stage.”

“We had a lot of players who played in the ACL for the first time. There were a lot of concerns, but the younger players stood out, so I’m looking forward to next year. It was also thanks to the veteran players who led them well.” “We will thoroughly prepare for the remaining K League 1 and Kaya games and finish the season well,” he added.

Meanwhile, Incheon will play their final group game against Kaya Iloilo (Philippines) on December 12.

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