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Analysis: Suwon capitalise on Yokohama's missed chances to complete AFC Champions League second-half comeback


Doha: One of the most dramatic Round of 16 matches of the 2020 AFC Champions League (East) saw Suwon Samsung Bluewings hold strong early and strike late to defeat Yokohama F. Marinos and advance to the quarter-finals.

Trailing 1-0 from the 20th minute, organisational efficiency kept Suwon in the match against Yokohama's formidable forwards, and allowed them to net three second-half goals to complete a stunning comeback.

For Yokohama, failure to convert well worked chances in the first half led to an earlier than desired exit in their first ever knockout round appearance.

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Park Kun-ha's influence

Conceding possession and playing on the counter-attack was always going to put pressure on Suwon's backline, the full weight of which was felt in the first half. Erik's opener in the 20th minute may have been Yokohama's first breakthrough, but the Japanese side created three additional chances in Suwon's box in the opening 45 minutes.

Suwon's defence struggled to find their feet against Yokohama's sustained pressure and only managed to intercept the ball three times in the opening stages. The result was a goal against, a handful of quality chances created, and just one shot on target at the other end of the pitch for the Bluewings.

(Where the sides launched their attacks from)

Half-time adjustments from Suwon manager Park Kun-ha not only prevented so many clear-cut chances for Yokohama, but also forced them to play much wider and settle for shots from outside the box. The Japanese side had just two shots in the entire second half, one of which was from well outside the penalty area.

Suwon also took more direct control of the match, intercepting the ball eight times in the second half. Four of which came from Kim Tae-hwan, whose proficiency from the back finally allowed Suwon to roam forward and put more pressure on the Yokohama backline.


Yokohama's missed opportunities

While Yokohama opened the scoring relatively early, they could have had the lead within five minutes of kick-off. Operating from their favoured left side (where 47% of their attack was built throughout the match), the J1 League side broke down the Suwon defence with a deft backheel flick from Marcos Junior back to Ryo Takano who whipped in a cross that first found Erik, and eventually Teruhito Nakagawa.

Nakagawa timed his far post run to perfection and was set to cap off what was clearly a well worked play from the training ground, but narrowly missed, placing the ball on the wrong side of the post. The miss stung a fair bit less when the Japanese side opened the scoring 17 minutes later, but would come back to mind before the half was over.

(Above left, Suwon shots; above right, Yokohama shots)

Already in the lead and looking to increase their advantage, Yokohama had another opportunity from a quickly played goal kick that put Nakagawa into wide open space down the right side. He then put in a curling cross that found Marcos Junior open on the far side, but it was the Brazilian this time who was unable to hit the target from close range and sent the shot well wide.

The first-half misses prevented Yokohama from a comfortable half-time lead, but weren't too tremendously new for the 2019 J1 League champions with just 30% of their shots finding the target in Continental competition this year. Had Yokohama been more precise, they may have had an insurmountable lead heading into the second half.


Kim Tae-hwan shines on both sides of the ball

The same structural organisation that helped Suwon keep Yokohama's attack at bay in the second half is also what allowed them to strike so efficiently for their first two goals. The first came in the 57th minute when four players swarmed Takahiro Ohgihara to force a turnover.

The quartet then turned decoy pulling Yokohama's defence out of position to create space in the middle of the pitch for Kim Min-woo to operate and comfortably find Kim Tae-hwan on his late run.

Kim Tae-hwan still had work to do, but was put into a one-on-one situation where he was able to run at his defender with pace, create space for himself, and put in a powerful left-footed strike. A fantastic individual effort, but one that he was afforded thanks to the work of his teammates in the midfield.

Suwon's second was also the result of the high press with Kim Tae-hwan sliding in to intercept the ball and getting it to Kim Min-woo. The midfielder found himself with time and space once again because of intelligent off-the-ball runs from Kim Gun-hee and Lim Sang-hyeob.

Lim drifted to the right to pull his defender slightly out of position, which opened the middle for Kim Gun-hee to quickly receive and wonderfully flick back to Kim Min-woo who exploited the space opened by the hold-up play to hit home Suwon's second. Whether leading from the back, or setting up a match-defining goal, Kim Tae-hwan was everywhere the Bluewings needed him to be in their breathtaking victory.

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