Athletic

(LEAD) Pohang Steelers beat rivals Jeonbuk for FA Cup title

Pohang Steelers rallied past K League rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to capture their fifth FA Cup title Saturday.Pohang scored three unanswered goals in the second half for a 4-2 victory at Pohang Steel Yard in the southeastern city of Pohang. This was…

Pohang Steelers rallied past K League rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to capture their fifth FA Cup title Saturday.

Pohang scored three unanswered goals in the second half for a 4-2 victory at Pohang Steel Yard in the southeastern city of Pohang. This was Pohang's fifth FA Cup title, putting them in a tie with Jeonbuk and Suwon Samsung Bluewings for the most FA Cup trophies in tournament history.

Pohang previously won the top national football tournament in 1996, 2008, 2012 and 2013.

By winning the FA Cup, Pohang also qualified for the 2024-2025 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Elite tournament.

Pohang head coach Kim Gi-dong said he had specifically asked his players, if only jokingly, that they should try to win the match by 4-2. During their previous FA Cup title run in 2013, Pohang had won their semifinals match by that score.

"I didn't think they would pull it off and win 4-2," Kim said with a laugh. "I honestly didn't like the way we played, but I have to give my players credit for bearing down and competing with an extra focus in the second half."

Jeonbuk opened the scoring on 17 minutes with Song Min-kyu's shot off his own rebound. Pohang then leveled the score just before halftime, with Han Chan-hee jumping on a loose ball after a cross by Goh Young-jun ricocheted off a Jeonbuk defender.

Jeonbuk took the lead about six minutes after the restart, when Gustavo converted a penalty. Moments earlier, Jeong Woo-jae was taken down by Shin Kwang-hoon in the area, and the penalty was awarded following a video review.

But it was all Pohang the rest of the way.

On 74 minutes, Zeca volleyed home the equalizer to make it 2-2. Kim Jong-woo then scored his first goal for Pohang some four minutes later with a left-footed strike to the bottom right corner of the net.

Hong Yun-sang put the icing on the cake for Pohang with a right-footed shot during added time.

This is the first trophy for coach Kim, who took over Pohang in 2019.

"I've come this far because my focus has been on making sure the players would have fun playing football," Kim said. "People told me that wouldn't be enough and we had to win something at some point. And we were able to win this tournament because the players stuck to it."

Kim said he didn't doubt that Pohang would come through.

"I told them to trust me no matter what, because I had the feeling that we were going to win today," Kim said. "I trusted them and also myself."

Kim Jong-woo, who was named the tournament MVP, said his go-ahead goal Saturday lifted a huge weight off his shoulders.

He was one of Pohang's top acquisitions last winter but hadn't been able to contribute much on the offense until the FA Cup final.

"I got hurt and wasn't of much help to the team, but the coach kept his faith in me and my teammates had my back," Kim said. "I think this goal helps wash away some of the guilty feelings I had for our supporters, coaches and club."

Source: Yonhap News Agency