KENYA BROWN - Monday, December 2, 2019
Mix Diskerud could only watch helplessly from the stands as Ulsan Hyundai conceded the K League 1 title to Jeonbuk Motors in their heavy loss to Pohang Steelers on the final day of the season.
Ulsan Hyundai 1-4 Pohang Steelers
In a crucial must-win game to secure the K League 1 crown, Ulsan Hyundai was a shell of themselves as they fell to Pohang Steelers at the Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium to make it a record-extending eighth second-place finish in the standings.
The Tigers had to play this game without Mix Diskerud as the midfielder was suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards. And his influence in the midfield was sorely missed on the day when they had a chance to break Jeonbuk Motors' domination of the league.
The host found their backs up against the wall in the 28th minute when Wanderson Carvalho gave Pohang the lead when Ulsan's Jeong Dong-Ho lost possession of the ball in his own end, allowing the Brazilian to sweep it home.
However, Ulsan bounced back to level the score in the 37th minute when their leading goal-scorer, Junior Negao, chipped the ball over goalkeeper Kang Hyeon-Mu from outside the area.
As the first half ended with the score tied, news began to circulate that second place Jeonbuk Motors had taken a 1-0 lead over their opponents, leaving Ulsan with a lot of work to do to try and get the win and maintain their hold on top of the standings to wrestle the title away from their rivals.
But the team would capitulate in the second half as they allowed Pohang to score three unanswered goals.
Stanislav Iljutcenko gave the visitors the lead again in the 55th minute as he put away the loose ball following a corner kick.
Heo Young-Joon extended Pohang's lead in the 88th minute when Ulsan's goalkeeper, for some strange reason, took the throw-in and gifted the ball to the forward as he scored in the defenseless goal.
Aleksandar Palocevic put the game to bed in stoppage as he scored a spot kick.
A disappointing way to end the campaign for Ulsan as they literally controled their own destiny in this final game, but once again they come up on the short end as Jeonbuk Motors claimed their third consecutive K League title.
Ulsan will head into next season's AFC Champions League, but sting of losing out on the title will be felt for a long time.
The Tigers finish the season in second place with 79 points.