BUSAN, Nov. 22 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean military football club Sangju Sangmu beat Busan IPark 1-0 to open the K League promotion-relegation playoff on Wednesday.
Sangju midfielder Yeo Reum scored only goal in the first leg of the home-and-away series at Gudeok Stadium in Busan. The second leg will take place at Sangju Civic Stadium in Sangju, some 270 kilometers south of Seoul.
The winner of this matchup will play in the top-flight K League Classic next season, while the loser will be in the lower-tier K League Challenge.
Sangju dropped into the playoff after finishing in 11th place among 12 clubs in the Classic. Each season, the last place club in the first division is demoted directly to the Challenge, while the second-to-last team must survive the playoff series to stay in the Classic.
Busan finished second in the Challenge this season, and earned the right to face Sangju after beating Asan Mugunghwa FC 3-0 in the Challenge playoff last week.
Sangju stunned Busan fans just eight minutes after the kick off when Yeo’s right-footed strike outside the box beatgoalkeeper Koo Sang-min.
Busan tried to level the score with Han Ji-ho’s free kick in the 22nd, and Kim Moon-hwan’s header in the 29th, but both attempts failed to find the net. In the first half extra time, Lee Jeong-hyeop’s close-range effort hit the post.
Busan, which was demoted to the Challenge in 2015, kept Sangju goalkeeper Yu Sang-hun busy in the second half.
In the 57th, Busan’s Brazilian midfielder Romulo curled a free kick, but hit the woodwork. Han found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Yu in the 64th, but his effort was denied.
Busan were given three minutes of extra time, but none of their players failed to get an equalizer.
With the victory, Sangju can secure their spot in the Classic even with a draw in the second leg. Busan can advance with a victory by a two-goal margin and a 1-0 win will force them into extra time and a penalty shootout if necessary.
Since the promotion-relegation playoff was first introduced in 2013, Challenge clubs have never lost to Classic teams.