FC Seoul 2-1 Incheon United Recap: Gyeongin Derby victory gets FC Seoul off to winning start
In a game that saw Hwang Ui-jo make his K League return, FC Seoul survived a late scare to earn a win over Incheon United and get off to a winning start to the season for a second year in a row.
Winter signing and new vice skipper Lim Sang-hyub made it 1-0 on the half-hour with a stunning, curler from outside the box to mark his debut with a goal.
Young centre back Kim Ju-sung headed in his first-ever goal as a professional on 70 minutes to make it 2-0 mid-way through the second half.
Oh Ban-suk half-volley late into the second half gave Incheon hope of at least salvaging a draw but in the end, it was Seoul who ran out as winners.
Much of the pre-match focus was on the debut - or potential debut - of Korean international striker Hwang Ui-jo.
He started for FC Seoul in a front two alongside Park Dong-jin while new captain Stanislav Iljutcenko had to make do with a place on the bench, as too Willyan.
An Ik-soo seemingly avoided having to leave one of his foreign players out by only naming two in the starting lineup - Osmar Ibáñez and Aleksandar Paločević.
For Incheon, Gerso Fernandes and Paul-José M'Poku started to make their debuts, flanking Kim Bo-seop who played through the centre - Hernandes was named on the bench.
Shin Jin-ho started against the club he spent a couple of season with alongside Lee Myung-joo in the centre of the park, another former FC Seoul midfielder.
With both sets of fans in full voice, both teams started out with plenty of endeavour and vigour. Gerso Fernandes looked sharp from the offset on the left-hand side of Incheon's front three.
The visitors looked the more composed of the two teams in the first 10 to 15 minutes and had a couple of advances into Seoul's box but debutant Choi Cheol-won's goal remained unbreached.
On 16 minutes, the referee awarded a free kick on the edge of the box to FC Seoul. Incheon thought they ought to have had a free kick of their own but instead FC Seoul were able to have their first proper attempt on goal.
Four or five stood over the ball but the chance came to nothing.
FC Seoul could smell blood, though, and the sharpness of their passing and intensity went up a couple of notches.
Lim Sang-hyub forced a good save from Kim Dong-heon to earn a corner but the resulting set piece came to nothing.
FC Seoul now looking to make the most of their possession and earn a first win over Incheon in seven meetings.
GOAL!! A debut goal for Lim Sang-hyub on 30 minutes put FC Seoul 1-0 up. The veteran winger picked up a loose ball on the edge of the D, allowed it to roll onto his left foot before sending it into the top corner.
Seoul were rewarded for their drive in the first 30 minutes but Incheon were undeterred and had a couple of dangerous corners, the first forcing Osmar into an essential intervention and the second, from the opposite side, requiring striker Park Dong-jin to head clear.
Another corner was given after Kim Do-hyeok's shot was tipped over the bar but Seoul were able to clear their lines.
Seoul very nearly went up the other end and made it 2-0. Park Dong-jin drove the ball up half the length of the pitch, cut inside and found Hwang Ui-jo whose shot stung the gloves of Kim Dong-heon who prevented a certain goal with an excellent save.
The 2023 FC Seoul, for now at least, looks more penetrating and incisive than the 2022 version which dominated games in terms of possession but failed to find the back of the net on more occasions than the fans will want to remember.
Gerso reminded FC Seoul, though, that the first half wasn't done with yet. On 41 minutes the former Jeju winger fired at goal from outside the box to call goalkeeper Choi Cheol-won into action.
The resulting corner was dealt with well by Seoul who had looked composed and assertive when needing to clear the danger.
In added time at the end of the first half Incheon came ever so close to finding a breakthrough. Kim Jin-ya's error allowed Kim Do-hyeok to find Kim Bo-seop whose shot was parried into the path of Gerso but last-ditch defending kept Seoul's cleansheet intact.
At the break, the scoreline read FC Seoul 1-0 Incheon United; Lim Sang-hyub's goal separated the two teams.
Neither manager made any changes at half time, seemingly content with what they had seen in the first 45.
FC Seoul began the second half brightly and won a free kick on the edge of the box when Paločević was fouled. The Serbian took the resulting free kick but it was hit straight at the wall.
Hwang Ui-jo's second chance of the match fell on 50 minutes, picking the ball up from Na Sang-ho before trying to squeeze the ball in from an acute angle but Kim Dong-heon was alert and collected comfortably.
Seoul were looking to stretch Incheon though with their wingers driving into space in the corners whenever an opportunity presented. Paločević took over the crossing duties and tried to pick out Park Dong-jin but the latter's header went straight over the bar.
Incheon boss Cho Sung-hwan decided to make a change just before the hour mark with Hernandes coming on for wingback Jung Dong-yoon. Kim Bo-seop had switched the wingback position with a front three of Hernandes, M'poku, and Gerso.
Every time Hwang Ui-jo got on the ball in a shooting position the Sangam crowd held its collective breath.
The on-loan Nottingham Forest striker had come close on a couple of occasions, his third chance came on 61 minutes but his low, hard drive flashed just wide.
Seoul were the much more alert of the two teams in the first 15 minutes of the second period. Incheon's final third passing just not clicking, despite the hard work of MPoku and Gerso.
Seoul thought they'd found a second on 68 minutes but Na Sang-ho saw his shot rebound back off the post.
There was the feeling that a second goal was coming. Just a minute later and centre back Kim Ju-sung saw his header clawed away by the Incheon goalkeeper.
GOAL!! Kim Ju-sung may have seen his first effort saved but the corner that followed, taken by Ki Sung-yueng, found its way to Kim at the back stick. Kim Dong-heon came off his line and stretched out his left arm but couldn't reach the ball and Seoul were 2-0 up with what was Kim Ju-sung's first-ever K League goal.
On 74 minutes, Seoul boss An Ik-soo made his first changes, bringing on Kim Shin-jin and Willyan in place of Paločević and Na Sang-ho. Willyan went to right wing while Kim Shin-jin slotted into the midfield alongside Ki.
Cho Sung-hwan then made two changes of his own, on coming Song Si-woo and Min Kyung-hyeon for Gerso and Kim Do-hyeok. It was heading into "Si-woo Time" but the infamous supersub had around 13 minutes to get his team back into the game.
Incheon were down but they weren't out. A Shin Jin-ho free kick was met by Harrison Delbridge who tried to guide the ball goalward but the Australian's effort looped over the bar.
Hwang Ui-jo will have to wait for his first FC Seoul goal as his debut was brought to an end on 85 minutes and replaced by centre back Kwon Wan-kyu.
GOAL!! Incheon pulled one back with two minutes of normal time remaining, skipper Oh Ban-suk fired in a half volley from inside the box. Cue a late rally from Incheon.
Frantic scenes on the FC Seoul bench as An Ik-soo looked at what he could do to shore up his defence and see the game out.
Right wingback Lee Si-young was getting ready just as the fourth official held up the digital board that showed there were to be seven minutes of time added on.
Gasps from the Sangam crowd followed the sub then being made - Park Dong-jin off for Lee Si-young.
Things began to get a bit desperate when Lee Tae-seok fluffed his clearance but luckily for him, Kim Dong-min wasn't expecting the ball and it ricocheted off him out for a goal kick.
Sangam knew it was 'squeeky bum time.' In the 97th minute, with what was the last action of the game, Choi Cheol-won denies Harrison Delbridge with a stunning save.
The referee blows for full time and ended FC Seoul 2-1 Incheon United.
21 Choi Cheol-won, 17 Kim Jin-ya, 30 Kim Ju-sung, 5 Osmar, 88 Lee Tae-seok, 7 Na Sang-ho, 26 Palocevic, 6 Ki Sung-yueng, 14 Lim Sang-hyub (c), 50 Park Dong-jin, 16 Hwang Ui-jo
Substitutes: 18 Hwang Sung-min, 3 Kwon Wan-kyu (Hwang Ui-jo 85'), 22 Lee Si-young (Park Dong-jin 90+1'), 25 Han Chan-hee, 94 Willyan (Na Sang-ho 76'), 9 Kim Shin-jin (Paločević 76'), 90 Iljutcenko
1 Kim Dong-heon, 4 Oh Ban-suk, 47 Kim Dong-min, 20 Delbridge, 14 Jung Dong-yoon, 5 Lee Myung-joo, 8 Shin Jin-ho, 7 Kim Do-hyuk, 40 M'Poku, 27 Kim Bo-seop, 11 Gerso Fernandes
Substitutes: 21 Lee Tae-hee, 3 Kim Yeon-su (M'Poku 86'), 6 Mun Ji-hwan (Lee Myung-joo 86'), 18 Yeo Reum, 28 Kim Kyung-hyeon (Kim Do-hyeok 78'), 19 Song Si-woo (Gerso Fernandes 78'), 10 Hernandes (Jung Dong-yoon 58')