Stanislav Iljutcenko of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors celebrates his goal against Daegu FC during a K League 1 match at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Tuesday, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (Korea Professional Football League)
Don't look now, but here come the champions.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, chasing a record fifth straight title in the K League 1, have climbed to the top of the tables this week. They defeated Daegu FC 3-2 on Tuesday for their third straight win and fourth in five matches in the young season.
With 13 points -- they also have a draw -- Jeonbuk sit two points clear of Ulsan Hyundai FC and Suwon Samsung Bluewings.
Both Ulsan and Suwon have three wins and two draws, with Ulsan in second place thanks to their advantage in the first tiebreaker, goals scored, at 10-6.
But these are also two teams going in opposite directions. Ulsan were held to a scoreless draw by Jeju United on Tuesday, the first time Ulsan have failed to score this season.
Suwon, on the other hand, blanked Pohang Steelers 3-0 on Wednesday, as midfielder Yeom Ki-hun played in his 400th match. Suwon have conceded a league-low one goal in five matches so far.
Jeonbuk, Ulsan and Suwon are three of four undefeated teams so far, with Jeju, at one win and four draws, being the fourth and the unlikeliest member of that group.
At the other end of the spectrum, three clubs are still seeking their first wins of 2021: Daegu FC, Suwon FC and Gangwon FC each have two draws and three losses.
Suwon FC suffered a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Incheon United on Wednesday, while Gangwon could only manage a 0-0 draw against Seongnam FC that same evening.
Elsewhere in midweek action, FC Seoul got past Gwangju FC 2-1 for their second straight win. Captain Ki Sung-yueng, still playing under the cloud of sexual assault allegations that surfaced late last month, scored the go-ahead goal in the 83rd minute.
"I am a professional football player. And no matter what's happening off the field, I have to keep my head up and stay on my feet on the field," Ki said. "If I'm being affected by something like this, then I'd only be making an excuse. I'm always happy and excited to take the field in front of fans. (Yonhap)