Journeyman Midfielder Kim Min-hyeok Secures First K League Title for Ulsan with Timely Goal

SEOUL — Ulsan Hyundai FC broke a three-match goalless streak to clinch their second consecutive K League 1 championship, defeating Daegu FC 2-0 on Sunday at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan. The pivotal moment came when 31-year-old midfielder Kim Min-hyeok scored a header goal in the 68th minute, securing the win for Ulsan and leaving Pohang Steelers 10 points behind with no chance to catch up this season.

According to a new release by Yonhap News Agency, Kim Min-hyeok, who joined Ulsan last December and has since played in 29 of the team’s 35 matches this year, expressed his delight at winning his first title. “It feels so good to lock down the title early. I was able to score because of all the help from my teammates,” Kim said.

Kim made his K League debut with FC Seoul in 2015 and played for four other clubs between 2016 and 2022 before joining Ulsan. This season has been a new experience for Kim, who had never contended for a title in his previous teams. “I've had so much help from everyone during my first season here. I want to thank the coach [Hong Myung-bo] for giving me so much playing time,” Kim added.

The game-changing goal came when Ataru Esaka sent a cross from the left wing that Daegu's goalkeeper, Oh Seung-hoon, tried but failed to punch away. Kim took advantage of the opportunity, outmaneuvering defender Kim Kang-san and heading the ball into the net for the first goal of the match, only four minutes after being substituted into the game.

“I wanted to go in and play aggressively from the get-go,” Kim explained. “Ataru made a great cross, and I was ready to pounce on it. All I did was just put my head to the ball.”

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