Incheon advances to ACL final for first time in 20 years…

Professional soccer K League 1 side Incheon United defeated Vietnam’s Hai Phong FC in extra time to advance to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) for the first time in its 20-year history.

Incheon won the 2023-2024 ACL Playoffs (PO) 3-1 in extra time after playing Hai Phong to a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes at the Incheon Football Stadium on Sunday.

Mugosa assisted on Incheon’s equalizer and the game-winning goal, putting on a performance worthy of the ‘King of Incheon’.

Incheon, which qualified for the PO after finishing fourth in the K League 1 last season, fulfilled its dream of reaching the ACL main draw 20 years after its founding. Incheon was founded in December 2003.

Incheon also extended the record for a K League club to qualify for the ACL PO to nine games.

Of the nine previous ACL POs for K League clubs, seven have ended in victory for K League clubs, while the other two have seen K League clubs advance after penalty kicks.

The group draw for the four K League 1 teams – Incheon, Ulsan Hyundai, Jeonbuk Hyundai, and Pohang Steelers – will be held on Thursday to determine their ACL group stage opponents.

Hai Phong, who qualified as runners-up in the 2022 Vietnamese League, defeated Rangers (Hong Kong) 4-1 in the qualifiers to reach the PO, lost on the day and will have to wait for another opportunity to make their first-ever ACL appearance.

Incheon host Suwon FC in three days’ time, but with the ACL qualification more important, head coach Cho Sung-hwan named a near-elite starting lineup with Mugosa and Chun Sung-hoon up front.

Hai Phong brought in a number of foreign players, including striker Yuri Mamute, who is a key part of the squad.

Vietnam international Luong Xuan Trong, who played for Incheon in 2018, was named to the substitutes’ bench and came on in the 27th minute.

Expected to play a dominant game, Incheon got off to a shaky start, conceding in the first five minutes.

Mamute picked up the ball on the left side, broke through the Incheon defense with a daring run and rattled the net with a right-footed shot. Kim Dong-min contested, but was pushed away.

Incheon, who were struggling to break down Hai Phong’s five-back defense, rattled the net within 10 seconds as the impatient Incheon supporters chanted “Wake up Incheon!”.

Mugosa’s cross from the left in the 17th minute.

After conceding the equalizer, Hai Phong refused to sit back and attacked at every opportunity. In the 42nd minute of the second half, Hai Phong midfielder Biku Bivite’s left-footed volley from a corner kick hit the crossbar.

With the offense struggling, Cho brought on Jerso and Kim Do-hyuk at the start of the second half, followed by Hernandez in the 19th minute.

Incheon’s offense started to come alive thanks to Gerso and Hernandez, who used their quick feet to find space behind Hai Phong, but the goal remained elusive.

Incheon had to swallow their disappointment in the 23rd minute when Mugosa’s header from a corner kick was saved by the goalkeeper. From the rebound, Mugosa again connected with a right-footed shot, but this time it hit the back of the outstretched goalkeeper.

Incheon had to wait until extra time to decide the game.

In the 10th minute of the first overtime, on a counterattack, Gerso and Hernandez sprinted through the downpour to score the game-winning goal.

After receiving a penetrating pass from Mugosa, Gerso sent a groundball cross into the box, and Hernandez split the goal with a non-stop right-footed shot.

Incheon sealed the victory in the second half of extra time when Gerso capitalized on a goalkeeping error. 안전카지노사이트

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