Home Sports The first challenge in 12 years that collapsed in 20 seconds… Pohang lost 0-2 to Al Hilal in the ACL final, runners-up

The first challenge in 12 years that collapsed in 20 seconds… Pohang lost 0-2 to Al Hilal in the ACL final, runners-up

by news dir

Kang Sang-woo (left) of the Pohang Steelers competes for the ball during the final match against Al-Hilal (Saudi) of the 2021 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on the 24th (Korea time). Riyadh = AP News

The Pohang Steelers challenged the Asian Football Federation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) for the first time in 12 years, but fell to their knees in the ‘luxury corps’ Al Hilal (Saudi).

Pohang lost 2-0 in the 2021 ACL final against Al Hilal at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on the 24th (Korean time) and took the runners-up. It was painful to be dragged out as we conceded a goal in the first 20 seconds of the game.

Pohang, who won this tournament in 2009, made it to the final in 12 years after a difficult season with several key players transferred or injured and many foreign players could not play their part this season. The second victory was never achieved.

Pohang manager Kim Ki-dong, who lifted the trophy as a player 12 years ago, postponed his first win as a manager to the next opportunity.

Standing in front of the 60,000 al-Hilal fans who filled the stadium, Pohang had a difficult time from the beginning. Immediately after the game started, Nasser Al-Dausari shot the ball from a distance, which Kvešić could not catch properly, and it opened the Pohang goal. It was a goal given in 20 seconds.

Pohang, who tried to unravel the game calmly in the beginning, was greatly twisted by this single goal. Immediately after the goal, Pohang became more rigid, and for over 10 minutes in the first half, Al-Hilal’s momentum pushed him and he couldn’t even get out of his own camp properly.

Al-Hilal, who raised the momentum, drove the Pohang camp with luxurious attacking teams such as Bape Timbi Gomis, who was a French national and experienced English Premier League (EPL), and Matteus Ferreira, who scored 11 EPL goals in West Bromwich Albion last season.

After the 13th minute of the first half, Pohang began to find their own pace little by little. Shin Jin-ho’s mid-range shot hit the post, and Im Sang-hyeop linked it to a shot again, but the goalkeeper saved it.

When the opportunity was not seized, a crisis came again. Mohamed Alburaik’s free kick in the 21st minute and Gomis’s turning shot in the 24th minute continued to threaten. In the 45th minute of the first half, Pohang headed Shin Jin-ho’s free kick with a header shot by Kwon Wan-gyu, but headed straight to the goalkeeper.

Pohang finished the first half with a 0-1 lead, and at the start of the second half, Kvesic and Lee Soo-bin were removed and Jeon Min-kwang and Ko Young-jun were put in. However, the appearance did not change significantly. In the 10th minute of the second half, Al-Hilal created more close-to-goal situations, including a direct shot from a direct free-kick from the right side of the penalty spot by Feheira just slightly misses the post.

In the end, Pohang allowed an additional goal in the 18th minute of the second half. Musa Marega, who played for Portugal’s prestigious Porto, received a penetration pass from Gomis, overcame Jeon Min-kwang, and opened the goal with a shot from the right side of the goal area, making the home fans who filled the 60,000 spectators enthusiastic.

In the end, Pohang could not overcome the unexpected conceded goal in about 20 seconds and suffered a 0-2 defeat throughout the 90 minutes.

Although it is a disappointing result, the runner-up alone exceeded expectations at the beginning of the season. Several key players who contributed to Pohang’s ACL qualification last winter left the team. Ilyuchenko, the second-ranked scorer, left for Jeonbuk Hyundai, and fourth-placed Palošević went to FC Seoul. Veteran Kim Gwang-seok, who was firmly in the rear, also transferred to Incheon United. The main striker, Song Min-gyu, moved to Jeonbuk right after participating in the Olympics.

Even in the final, they had no choice but to go on an away road with goalkeeper Kang Hyun-moo and midfielder Seung-mo Lee in Korea. Kang Hyun-moo was injured, and Lee Seung-mo was excluded from the expedition team because he could not leave the country due to insufficient service hours related to military service. Coach Kim put forward Kvesic instead of Seungmo Lee and put forward a strategy to place the Palacios forward, but it was difficult to win the victory only with ‘gums’ until the final.

Kim Ki-joong reporter

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