K League 1 Incheon picks up four points in group stage…

Professional soccer’s K League One Incheon United picked up four points in its first Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) group stage since its inception, but fell just short of reaching the round of 16.

Incheon defeated Kaya FC Iloilo (Philippines) 3-1 in the final sixth match of the 2023-2024 ACL Group G on Wednesday afternoon at the Risal Memorial Stadium in Manila, Philippines.

However, Incheon’s hopes of advancing to the round of 16 were dashed as Yokohama F.Marinos (Japan) defeated Choi Kang-hee’s Shandong Taishan (China) 3-0 at home in the same match.

There are a total of eight round of 16 tickets distributed among the 20 teams in the tournament’s five East Asian groups.

The top five teams in each group will advance directly to the round of 16, while the three best performing teams in each group will earn the remaining three tickets.

Incheon has four wins and two losses in their six group games, giving them 12 points, the same as Shandong and Yokohama.

However, Incheon’s two wins over Yokohama, Yokohama’s two wins over Shandong, and Shandong’s two wins over Incheon equalized the head-to-head record of all three teams.

As a result, the three teams, with the exception of Kaya, who dropped to the bottom of the standings with six losses, were separated by goal differential, with Incheon (-1) trailing first-place Yokohama (+1) and second-place Shandong (0).

With the loss, Incheon slipped to third place in the group despite picking up four points (two losses) in their first ACL appearance.

It was a disappointing result after a promising start, as Filipino team Kaya did not win a single game and suffered six losses, and the remaining three teams were evenly matched.

For Incheon, it was especially painful to lose both games against Shandong, which was coached by Choi. Incheon conceded five goals while scoring one in the two games against Shandong.

Currently, Pohang Steelers and Ulsan Hyundai have secured their spot in the round of 16.

In the match, Incheon got off to a flying start when Park Seung-ho rattled the net just 12 minutes into the match.

Park Seung-ho whipped in a cross from the right flank that went straight past the keeper and into the corner of the net.

Thirteen minutes later, Choi Woo-jin made it 2-0 with a sharp left-footed shot after chasing down a penetrating pass from Mpoku and running into the back of the opposition defense. An initial offside call was made, but video assistant referee (VAR) review allowed the goal to stand.

Kaya pulled one back in the eighth minute of the second half when Simone Rota headed home from a corner kick, but they conceded a penalty kick in stoppage time for a handball foul.

Kim Do-hyuk, who stepped up to take the penalty kick, calmly finished to seal the victory. 안전놀이터

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