Ulsan Hyundai started their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) group stage on a winning note, beating Pathum at home thanks to a hat-trick from Martin Adam.
Ulsan won 3-1 against Pathum in the first leg of their ACL group stage match of the 2023/24 season at Munsu Stadium in Ulsan, South Korea, on Monday.
The biggest changes to this year’s ACL are that it will be played as the Chuseok Festival, which begins in the fall and continues through the following spring, the foreign player quota has been expanded from 3+1 to 5+1, and while last year’s group stage was played at a neutral site due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s group stage will again be played on a home-and-away basis. Ulsan kicked off the group stage with a first-leg match at home against Fatum.
Despite being at the top of the K League 1 table, Ulsan hasn’t been in the best of spirits lately, with two draws and one loss in their last three league games, closing the gap on second-place Pohang to six points. The team needed to turn things around for both the ACL and the league with a win over PATUM, and they did just that.
The home team Ulsan started with a 4-2-3-1 tactic. In addition to Cho Hyun-woo in goal, Kim Tae-hwan, Jung Seung-hyun, Kim Young-kwon, and Lee Myung-jae formed the back four. Lee Kyu-sung and Lee Dong-kyung formed the third line, while Lee Cheong-yong, Bojanic, and Bako supported Martin Adam up front.
The away team, Pathum, countered with a 3-5-2. Jakapan Parisuwan, Chanapatch Buaphan, and Sinnapat Leo formed the back three, with Chatchai Butrum in goal. The wing-backs were flanked by Pitiwat Sukjitanmakul and Leighan Stewart, while the midfielders were Sarat Yuen, Chawat Weerachat, and Freddy Alvarez. Up front, Igor Sergeyev and Tirasil Dangda were in goal.
The first half started with Patum leading the way. Ulsan quickly intercepted a long-passing tactic that PATUM tried at the start of the game and immediately gained possession of the ball.
Ulsan pressured PATUM hard. In the second minute of the first half, a cross from Lee Myung-jae beat the Patum defense and flowed to the front of the penalty box arc, where Lee Kyu-sung, who was waiting in the area, attempted a mid-range shot. Lee’s shot narrowly missed the top of the net. In the fifth minute, Martin Adam headed in a cross from Kim Tae-hwan, but he failed to make a strong enough impact and ended up in the goalkeeper’s arms.
Pathum also fought back. In the eighth minute, Sergeyev broke through on the right side of the Ulsan penalty box and almost threatened with a cut-back pass, but was blocked by Lee Kyu-sung’s defense.
Ulsan seized the offensive reins and pushed for the first goal. In the 16th minute, Bako picked up the ball at the front of the Batum penalty box and exchanged passes with Lee Dong-kyung to disperse the opponent’s pressure, and when space opened up, Lee Dong-kyung wasted no time in attempting a mid-range shot that unfortunately hit the post and didn’t find its way into the goal.
Ulsan’s Kim Young-kwon and Jung Seung-hyun were able to clear the ball at key moments, despite PATUM’s sporadic attacks. However, in the 24th minute of the first half, when PATUM counterattacked after Lee Myung-jae cut off a ball, Sergeyev immediately entered the penalty box and tried to shoot, but Cho Hyun-woo made a good save to escape the danger.
The crisis was quickly followed by a chance. In the 28th minute, Ulsan took the lead when Jung Seung-hyun’s mid-range shot was saved and bounced back to Lee Dong-kyung with a low, quick cross that Martin Adam slotted home.
After the goal, Ulsan continued to push for more chances. In the 37th minute, a sharp attacking move involving Vojanic, Martin Adam, and Lee Dong-kyung gave Ulsan a golden opportunity to extend their lead, but Lee was denied by the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation.
Despite Ulsan’s strong attack, Pathum, who were trying to make up for the deficit, succeeded in scoring the equalizer. In the 41st minute, Stewart took advantage of a scramble in the center of the penalty box following a cross and slipped into the box, squeezing between Lee Myung-jae and Lee Kyu-sung. Cho Hyun-woo, who missed Stewart’s momentary breakthrough, had no time to react and conceded the goal.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net and the first half ended 1-1.
At the start of the second half, Ulsan made a last-minute change to their defense, removing Kim Young-kwon and introducing Kim Ki-hee.
Ulsan then pushed for the equalizer on offense, and in the third minute of the second half, Vojanic’s right-footed mid-range shot from the left side of the Pathum penalty box arc was aimed at the corner of the goal but came up just short. In the fifth minute of the second half, Bako picked up the ball near the goal after receiving a penetrating pass and sent a cross that was caught by the Butrum goalkeeper.
Butrum aimed for the back of Ulsan’s high line. In the 13th minute of the second half, a momentary breakthrough allowed Sergeyev to get behind the Ulsan defense, but his final touch was long and was intercepted by Kim Ki-hee.
Ulsan made a substitution in the 18th minute of the second half, removing Lee Chung-yong, Lee Dong-kyung, and Bojanic to bring on Rubikson, Kim Min-hyuk, and Ataru in an attempt to solve their frustrating offense. However, the team was unable to create any offense, as their passes were easily intercepted on the counterattack that immediately followed. Then, in the 23rd minute, Jung Seung-hyun tried to find the Pathum goal with a mid-range shot, but it went wide of the goal.
Ulsan, who were looking for an equalizer, struck again, this time through Martin Adam. In the 28th minute of the second half, Lee Kyu-sung received a pass from Ataru and pushed back towards the penetrating Ataru to enter the penalty box, and Ataru’s low, quick cross was met by Martin Adam, who slotted it into the top corner of the Pathum goal.바카라
Ulsan rattled the Pathum net again shortly afterward, but the goal was disallowed. In the 30th minute of the second half, a cross from the center of the penalty box was met by Martin Adam, but an earlier foul was called back to deny him a hat trick.
Martin Adam eventually completed his hat-trick and scored the goal that sealed the win for Ulsan. In the 33rd minute, Ataru’s cross was flicked on by Bako inside the penalty box to Martin Adam, who calmly struck a low, quick left-footed shot into the corner of the Pathum goal.
Down two goals, Pathum pressed Ulsan hard for a comeback, but unlike in the first half, they were unable to create much of a threat. Ulsan, on the other hand, had a chance in the 43rd minute when Bako received a pass inside the penalty box and made a simple run, but his shot was saved.
Pathum had another chance in stoppage time when a sharp counterattack saw Sergeyev find himself one-on-one with the keeper, but the ball went behind him and he was unable to get a shot away. A cross from the right side of the Ulsan penalty box in stoppage time was also easily collected by Cho Hyun-woo.