The first Asian Champions League (ACL) in 20 years has come to a boil. Incheon United has advanced to the round of 16 after two group games.
Incheon defeated Kaya FC (Philippines) 4-0 in the second match of Group G of the 2023-2024 ACL on Wednesday at the Incheon Football Stadium. After defeating last season’s J-League champions Yokohama Marinos 4-2 on the road in the first leg, Incheon now leads Group G with a 2-0 record. In the group stage, the top three teams from each group advance to the round of 16. Incheon took another step forward in advancing through the group stage.
Incheon head coach Cho Sung-hwan fully utilized his foreign players, including Mugosa, Jerso, Mpoku, Hernandez, and Delbridge. It was a furious start. Mugosa opened the scoring in the sixth minute. Min Kyung-hyun sent in a cross and Mugosa rattled the net with a header. Mugosa found the back of the net with a header in the 13th minute, but a foul was called after VAR (video assistant referee).
He made up for it six minutes later. Mugosa calmly converted the penalty kick he earned in the 19th minute. Having taken the lead early, Incheon was not to be denied. Mugosa converted another cross from Mpoku in the 29th minute. He seemed to be celebrating a hat-trick, but was called offside and hit the ground.
After Mugosa’s one-man show, Gerso flashed. He found the back of the net in the 33rd and 35th minutes, but his shots went just wide of the post. He completed Incheon’s third goal with an assist in the 36th minute. Gerso found Hernandez with a pass that beat the opposing goalkeeper. Hernandez finished into the empty net.
With the game virtually won, Cho took the liberty of substituting Mugosa, Jerso, and Hernandez at halftime in preparation for the final K League 1 regular season match against Ulsan Hyundai on Aug. 8. Chun Sung-hoon, Kim Bo-seop and Park Seung-ho took their places. Incheon’s dominance continued in the second half, with Mpoku scoring the game’s final goal from a free kick in the 29th minute.
Earlier in the day, defending K League champions Ulsan faced Kawasaki Frontale at Todoroki Stadium in Kawasaki, Japan. It was the second round of Group I. Ulsan defeated BG Pathum United (Thailand) and Kawasaki defeated Johor (Malaysia) 3-1 and 1-0, respectively, in the first round. The two teams expected to be at the top of Group I are doomed.
Ulsan faced Kawasaki for the third consecutive year. Ulsan won 3-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the round of 16 in 2021. Cho Hyun-woo was the star of the show. Last year, the teams met twice in the group stage. Ulsan drew 1-1 in the first leg and won 3-2 in the second. 스포츠토토
It was a battle of egos between Cho Hyun-woo and Kawasaki’s gatekeeper Jung Sung-ryong. However, Ulsan couldn’t hold on for the final. In the 44th minute, they conceded a mid-range goal through Kawasaki’s captain Gento Tachibana to go down 1-0.
Second-half stoppage time lasted just three minutes. Head coach Hong Myung-bo activated the In-Joo Gyu card after conceding the first goal, but there was not enough time to find an equalizer.