Relegation-threatened Seongnam FC will now find themselves competing in Asia next year after beating FC Seoul 4-2 on penalties in Sunday’s Korean FA Cup Final.
Their second FA Cup title came at the end of a grueling scoreless draw against Seoul, who were the heavy favorites in front of a crowd of just 6,721 at Seoul World Cup Stadium. The AFC Champions League semifinalists found themselves just short of what would have been the game-winning score after Sergio Escudero missed two consecutive open-net chances in the first half following Seongnam goalkeeper Park Jun-hyuk’s error.
But underdogs Seongnam, who came into the match prepared for a defensive battle, managed to keep their opponents off the scoreboard through 120 minutes of play. There was drama in the closing minutes as both teams attempted to change their goalkeepers ahead of penalties, but Seongnam were unable to get the ball out of play and Park remained on the pitch.
As it turns out he would be the hero of the afternoon, stopping penalties by Mauricio Molina and Osmar and earning MVP honors as he and his teammates hoisted the trophy.
The victory meant much to fans of Seongnam, who earlier this year were purchased by the local city government from former owners Ilhwa. Despite being Korea’s most successful club with seven K-League titles, they could still participate in the Promotion/Relegation Playoff if they are unable to overtake Gyeongnam FC in the league’s Relegation Round.
FC Seoul, on the other hand, can only return to the ACL by overcoming third-place Pohang Steelers in the Championship Round.