Gyeongnam FC's Ko Kyung-min (Yonhap)
Gyeongnam FC advanced to South Korean football‘s final promotion playoff with a 1-1 draw against rivals Daejeon Hana Citizen on Wednesday.
Ko Kyung-min scored a 70th minute equalizer for Gyeongnam, 10 minutes after Edinho put Daejeon on the board in the first stage of the promotion playoffs in the second-tier K League 2 at Changwon Football Center in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
As the higher seed, Gyeongnam only needed a draw, with no extra time or penalty shootout in play. Daejeon had to win to advance, and they caught a tough break when Bruno Baio missed a penalty and then had a last-minute goal disallowed following a video assistant referee (VAR) review. Just before his shot, Daejeon’s Lee Jong-moon fouled a Gyeongnam player in the box, causing the goal to be wiped out.
Gyeongnam will face Suwon FC in the final playoff match at 3 p.m. Sunday, with the winner earning a promotion to the top-division K League 1 for next season.
From the K League 2, the league winners earn an automatic promotion to the K League 1 each season. Jeju United claimed that spot this year with 60 points. Then the second-place team advances to the promotion final each year, and Suwon FC book that place this year with 54 points.
Third- and fourth-ranked teams meet in the first playoff match for a chance to compete for the promotion. Gyeongnam and Daejeon both finished with 39 points, and Gyeongnam ranked ahead thanks to their 40-36 advantage in the goals scored tiebreaker.
Though Gyeongnam only needed a draw, they came out firing early on. Ko hit a goal post in the 18th minute, and Jung Hyuk‘s header off the rebound just went over the crossbar.
Daejeon pushed back a bit later in the first half, but Gyeongnam goalkeeper Son Jeong-hyeon stood tall in net to keep it scoreless in the first half.
Edinho broke the deadlock with his right-footed shot at the hour mark. But Ko answered back 10 minutes later thanks to a setup from Park Ki-dong.
Daejeon were awarded a penalty in the 72nd minute when Gyeongnam defender Bae Seung-jin was called for a handball violation in the box.
Baio scored on his first attempt but the referee called it off because Daejeon’s Lee Kyu-ro stepped inside the box before the shot was taken.
On the second attempt, Baio missed the net to the left.
Daejeon took another punch to the gut late on the VAR review.
Suwon FC have beaten Gyeongnam in all three matches this year. (Yonhap)