9 May 2020 – Football is back!

Millions of fans tuned into watch Jeonbuk Motors defeat Suwon Bluewings 1-0 in the South Korean K-League.

Supporters jumped at the chance to watch some live action for the first time since football was suspended in March – and after 83 minutes they finally saw a goal!

The 41-year-old Lee Dong-gook scored what turned out to be the winning goal with a fine header from a corner. But there was an eerie silence as the final whistle was blown.

Jeonbuk’s players celebrated with a hand signal to give thanks to their country’s health workers. 

The Bluewings were reduced to 10 men after Australian Terry Antonis caught on Jun-ho with a dangerous studs-up sliding challenge with 15 minutes remaining.  

Supporters made the most of their first chance to watch live football with people watching on the BBC website and 1.8million watching on Twitter.

One person tweeted: ‘Good to watch some live football, but HT 0-0. Jeonbuk controlling most of the possession and Suwon remind of of Tony Pulis’s Stoke side, scrappy game but that’s to be expected due to lack of match sharpness.’

Another joked they were just happy to see the fourth official’s board again. 

While there were no fans in the stands, artificial crowd noise was piped into the stadium during game before briefly being switched off and back on following the final whistle.   

Jeonbuk boss Jose Morais, formerly Jose Mourinho’s assistant, did not shake hands with his opposite number and instead settled on an elbow and fist bumps instead.

This was one of the safety measures put in place which included restrictions on players talking to team-mates, opponents and officials, and coaches and substitutes having to wear face masks.

‘Excessive spitting or blowing of the nose is prohibited and players should refrain from close conversations,’ said said K-League communication officer Woo Cheoung-sik. 

‘During the game, players who habitually spit or talk closely will be warned.’  

The game even had some VAR drama in the second half, when the hosts were denied what appeared a clear penalty after the ball struck the hand of Suwon defender Doneil Henry.   

The match offered a glimpse of what the Premier League could look like should Project Restart get the go ahead from officials. 

Over 1,000 players in the K-League were tested for coronavirus and all results came back negative. 

The Bundesliga is set to follow in South Korea‘s footsteps when it becomes the first European league to return to action when games resume behind closed doors on May 16. 

(source: BBC.com)