K League One Incheon United suffered its first defeat in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) group stage after falling to Choi Kang-hee’s Shandong Taishan (China).
Incheon conceded two second-half goals and lost 0-2 to Shandong in their third home match of Group G of the 2023-2024 ACL at the Incheon Football Stadium on Friday.
Incheon, which is playing in the ACL for the first time in its 20-year history, suffered its first defeat after failing to continue the momentum of its 4-2 win over Yokohama Mariners (Japan) on March 19 and 4-0 victory over Caya (Philippines) on March 3, leaving it with two wins and six points.
Shandong, coached by Choi Kang-hee, who previously managed K League One side Jeonbuk Hyundai, also secured their second win of the group stage to move to 2-1-1 with six points, while Yokohama, who defeated Kaya 3-0 earlier in the day, are also on six points, making Group G a mixed bag.
Incheon, with Mugosha and Gerso up front and veterans Shin Shin-ho and Lee Myung-joo all out with injuries, came out firing from the start with Moon Ji-hwan, Mpoku and Hernandez in the midfield.
They failed to capitalize on a series of good chances, with Kim Yeon-soo’s header from a left-sided free kick by Mpoku being blocked by goalkeeper Wang Darei within the first three minutes of the match, and Moon Ji-hwan’s header from a right-sided corner kick by Mpoku hitting the post.
Shandong tried to take advantage of their height by sending Belgian international Marouane Fellaini (194 cm), who has played for Manchester United (England), up front, but it was fruitless in the first half.
Incheon introduced Kim Do-hyuk in the seventh minute of the second half in place of Moon Ji-hwan, who received a first-half red card, and Shandong struck first in the 10th minute of the second half, when the bench battles began in earnest with the introduction of 190-centimeter Brazilian striker Crijang.
In the 13th minute of the second half, Shandong’s Brazilians shared the lead when Krijang’s right-footed shot from the penalty arc after receiving a pass from Moises found the back of the net.
In the 23rd minute of the second half, Incheon added to their injury woes as defender Kim Yeon-soo complained of muscle pain, and they replaced Kim Yeon-soo with Min Kyung-hyun and Mugosa with Chun Sung-hoon in search of an equalizer.
However, Incheon was unable to find the back of the net, and Fellaini’s 42nd-minute goal drove a wedge into the game. 스포츠토토