Busan IPark earned their first point of the 2020 K League season with a hard-earned 1-1 draw away to Ulsan Hyundai on Sunday evening.
Ulsan, who finished as runners up in last season’s title race and are tipped by many to lift the K League 1 trophy this year, were heavy favorites going into the game. They had started their season with two impressive wins, while newly-promoted Busan came into the game having lost their opening two fixtures.
Busan coach Cho Deok-jae again reshuffled his pack for the trip to Ulsan, giving a first start of the year to international striker Lee Jeong-hyeop, and selecting 22-year-old goalkeeper Kim Jeong-ho between the sticks.
Ulsan looked threatening early on, and they could have taken the lead inside five minutes when midfielder Yoon Bit-garam was teed up 15 yards out. The experienced midfielder was denied, however, hit shot blocked by Busan’s Uzbekistan defender Dostonbek Tursunov.
Busan grew into the game as the first half wore on, and Lee Jeong-hyeop forced Ulsan keeper Jo Hyeon-woo into a smart save on the half-hour mark. Busan’s rookie keeper Kim Jeong-ho was also called into action, denying both Lee Sang-hyun and Junior Negao before half time.
Busan took the lead on 55 minutes with a wonderfully executed goal. Park Jong-woo won the ball for Busan in midfield and Kim Byung-oh slalomed past two Ulsan players before delivering an inch-perfect floated pass to Lee Jeong-hyeop. The striker took the ball down exquisitely on his chest and unleashed a fierce left-footed drive into the corner for Busan’s first goal from open play in 2020.
Ulsan responded well after going behind, and they were unfortunate not to be back on level terms on the hour mark when former Premier League midfielder Lee Chung-yong had a goal harshly ruled out for offside.
Fortune was on their side on 77 minutes, however, when Busan captain Kang Min-soo was penalized for handball, despite holding his arm behind his back when the ball struck it. Brazilian forward Junior Negao scored from the penalty spot to secure a point for Ulsan and deny Busan their first win of the season.
Busan now sits in 11th spot in the table, one point ahead of fellow newly-promoted side Gwangju FC, who lost their third consecutive game on Saturday and have yet to score a goal in 2020.
Busan face off against Suwon Bluewings this Saturday at 7 p.m.