Starting with the “Rival Derby” between last season’s champion Ulsan Hyundai and runner-up Jeonbuk Hyundai, the K-League 1 of the 2023 season kicked off splendidly. Although the wind at the end of winter was still chilly, 28,093 people visited the Munsu Stadium in Ulsan, where the opening game was held, setting the record for the largest number of spectators since COVID-19. 22,204 people also came to the ‘Gyeongin Line Derby’ between FC Seoul and Incheon held at Sangam World Cup Stadium in Seoul, and 10,000 people came to Daejeon World Cup Stadium to watch the match between Daejeon Hana Citizen and rival Gangwon FC, which returned to K-League 1 after 8 years. 8590 people entered. A total of 101,632 spectators visited the six games in the first round. It is the first time since the introduction of the promotion and relegation system that the number of spectators in the opening round exceeded 100,000.
More goals are expected this season than ever before. Cho Kyu-seong (25, Jeonbuk), who scored multiple goals in the World Cup for the first time in Korean soccer history, is still alive, and national striker Hwang Eui-jo (31, Seoul) has also returned. In addition, as the number of foreign players increased, all 12 teams predicted aggressive soccer. Ten goals were scored in the opening round last season, but 14 goals were scored this season. The average score per game in the K-League decreased from 2.72 goals in 2018 to 2.47 goals in the 2021 season, but the atmosphere is rebounding with 2.59 goals last season.
In the opening match held on the 25th, Ulsan won 2-1 against Jeonbuk. On this day, Ulsan fans hung a banner reading ‘Amano is a liar’ at the stadium to express their regret for Jun Amano (32) from Japan who left for Jeonbuk, a rival team. Amano looked back after the game, saying, “I saw the banner, and I was worried about the booing.”
Coincidentally, the first goal in this match started from Amano’s foot. In the 10th minute of the first half, Amano assisted Song Min-gyu (24) of Jeonbuk Province with a sensational pass. Song Min-gyu became the protagonist of the opening celebration for the second year in a row following last season. However, Ulsan drove Jeonbuk hard as if they could not give up the opening game and the home game. In the end, Ulsan’s speed racer Um Won-sang (24) and newly recruited Rubik’s Son (30) shook Jeonbuk’s net one after another.
On the same day, Seoul also made a pleasant start by beating Incheon 2-1. Seoul scored the first goal in the 29th minute with the left foot of Im Sang-hyup (35), a transfer student. 안전놀이터 In the 25th minute of the second half, Kim Joo-seong (23) of Seoul even had a header, leading 2-0. In the 42nd minute of the second half, Oh Ban-seok (35) scored an additional goal for Incheon, but failed to turn the game around. Gwangju, which had been promoted from the K-League 2, reported a splendid comeback by beating Suwon 1-0 with Asani (28)’s winning goal in the 43rd minute of the second half.
Seven goals were scored in three K-League 1 matches held on the 26th. Daejeon defeated Gangwon 2-0 with Thiago (30) and Leandro (28) scoring consecutively in the K-League 1 match held in 8 years since October 24, 2015. At Pohang Steel Yard, where Pohang and Daegu FC faced each other, the match was delayed by 30 minutes due to a wiring problem, but the players made up for it by fighting fiercely. Pohang conceded a goal first, but thanks to Lee Ho-jae (23)’s multi-goal, they turned the score around 3-2.