K League leads the way as soccer returns

Ian McCullough
Adam Taggart was one of two Aussies, alongside Terry Antonis, to play in the K League season opener

Soccer made its long-awaited return on Friday with Korea's K League kicking off its 2020 season with champions Jeonbuk Motors beating Suwon Bluewings 1-0.

The 42,000 Jeonju World Cup Stadium was closed to supporters and the few people present in the ground, including South Korea manager Paulo Bento, members of the media and ground staff, all wore masks.

Pre-match handshakes were also cancelled with coaches and substitutes from both sides also donning masks in a match that saw Australians Terry Antonis and Adam Taggart line-up for the visiting Suwon side.

Taggart, who was the K-League's top scorer with 20 goals last season, was put clear through on goal in the first half only to be denied by the offside flag in one of the few chances presented to him.

The opening stanza produced limited goalscoring opportunities for either side but the hosts dominated the second before veteran striker Dong-Gook Lee, the oldest player in the competition at 41, nodded into the net seven minutes from time.

Despite being on the back foot for most of the second period the Suwon defence were comfortably holding out Jeonbuk, with a penalty shout for handball against Canadian Doneil Henry ruled out by VAR, the closest they came to scoring.

However, the match was turned in favour in of the home side when former Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory midfielder Antonis was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Son-Jun-Ho, leaving his side to play out the final 15 minutes with 10 men.

Taggart was immediately sacrificed for a midfielder as Suwon tried to hold on for a point only to for Lee to seal the victory in the 83rd minute.

Lee, who has been capped 105 times by his country, ghosted in front of the previously impressive Henry at the front post to flick home a corner as the champions began their title defence successfully.