Busan IPark Lose Opening Game In Return to Top Flight League

Busan IPark were defeated by Pohang Steelers 2-0 in the first round of the 2020 K League 1 on Sunday.

The trip to Pohang’s Steel Yard was Busan’s first game back in the top tier of Korean soccer since their relegation in 2015. The match was played out in front of empty stands, as precautions against the spread of Covid-19 continue.

Busan IPark coach Cho Deok-jae handed debuts to five new signings, including Brazilian striker Gustavo Vintecinco and former international defenders Yoon Suk-young and Kang Min-soo.

Busan started brightly, with last season’s K League 2 MVP Lee Dong-joon looking lively, but the Busan forwards failed to seriously test Pohang goalkeeper Kang Hyeon-mu. The home side then took the lead on 24 minutes through German striker Stanislav Iljutcenko, whose glancing header from Kim Yong-hwan’s cross nestled in the corner of Kim Ho-joon’s goal.

Image: Busan IPark

Pohang continued to threaten in the second half as Busan struggled to get a foothold in the match, and the game effectively ended as a contest when Busan defender Dostonbek Tursunov tripped Iljutcenko inside the penalty area. Pohang’s Serbian midfielder Aleksandar Paločević converted the resulting penalty to give the home side a comfortable two-goal cushion.

Busan substitute Kim Byung-oh had a positive impact as the away team chased the game, but the match finished 2-0 to the hosts, leaving the team goalless and pointless after one game.

The club has a difficult run of fixtures this month. Reigning champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors visit Busan’s Gudeok Stadium next Saturday, and a trip to 2019 runners up Ulsan Hyundai follows the week after. As yet, there has been no official announcement of when stadiums will reopen to fans.

Tomas Marcantonio
Tomas writes novels, travel, flash fiction, and sports. He’s been getting gleefully lost in Busan’s neon-lit backstreets since 2011. You can follow Tomas on Twitter @TJMarcantonio and @IparkBusan

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