The final day of the Korean K League 1 saw a dramatic finish as Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors came from three points behind to retain their title at the expense of Ulsan.
Jeonbuk, coached by Portuguese José Morais, appeared to have lost out on a third successive championship last week when they failed to beat Ulsan away from home. The 1-1 draw between the sides meant Ulsan had a 3-point advantage heading into today’s home clash with Pohang Steelers and needed just a point to seal glory.
However, Ulsan slumped to a 4-1 defeat, allowing Morais’ side the opportunity to snatch an unlikely triumph. Jeonbuk beat Gangwon 1-0 at home thanks to 40th-minute goal by Son Jun-Ho and take first place based on the goals scored sorting rule. Jeonbuk scored 72 goals across their 38 games compared to 71 by Ulsan, meaning just one goal between the sides was enough to decide the title.
"I am pleased to take the most exciting press conference this year, I am very happy,” Morais said as he greeted the media after the match.
"The Ulsan-Pohang game started at the same time. I found out that Pohang scored a goal following the fans' cheers. The players worked hard. The most important thing was to do what we had to do. I came here with that idea.
"I had a good experience [in Korea]. I grew up a lot in Jeonbuk during a year. I feel the life of Morais the person developed. I had heard a lot about Jeonbuk, but I was very nervous at the start of the season. Thanks to Lee Dong-gook and Hong Jeong-ho for their help. I think it's been a good outcome.”
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It is the second trophy of Morais’ career as a head coach, having won the Saudi Super Cup with Al-Shabab in 2014. The Lisbon native had enjoyed vast success as an assistant coach to José Mourinho during stints with Internazionale, Real Madrid and Chelsea, but has recently had spells in management in England, Greece and Ukraine.
By Sean Gillen