Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors down Daegu with dramatic late winner but show little to suggest they can win AFC Champions League

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are through to the 2022-23 AFC Champions League quarterfinals after a thrilling 2-1 extra-time win over South Korean compatriots Daegu on Thursday. Kenta Harada/Getty Images

As expected -- at least based on historical standing and recent form -- Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are through to the 2022-23 AFC Champions League quarterfinals at the expense of fellow South Korean outfit Daegu.

After Daegu's Zeca had cancelled out Song Min-kyu's opener in Thursday's Round of 16 clash at Urawa Komaba Stadium, substitute Kim Jin-kyu popped up with a dramatic extra-time winner -- in the 121st minute, no less -- to seal a 2-1 victory for Jeonbuk.

- Salvation still on the cards as Vissel stun Marinos in ACL last-16
- Can Bidoglio continue JDT's historic ACL journey Mora started?
- Ambitious Doan still has plenty he wants to achieve in his career

Marching on to the next round, along with their status as two-time champions of Asia's premier club competition, might suggest that Jeonbuk could be readying for another tilt at the title.

But based on Thursday's display, more improvement is desperately needed if they are to be regarded as genuine contenders.

Having made the decision to field an all-local starting XI -- with foreign attackers Modou Barrow and Gustavo both on the bench -- Jeonbuk coach Kim Sang-sik then had to watch on as his charges failed to create any meaningful openings despite dominating possession in the opening 45.

Things looked to have turned a corner immediately after the restart when Song opened the scoring with a fine first-time volley off a Han Kyo-won cross, only for Jeonbuk to take their foot off the pedal and allow Daegu to not only equalise but then look the likelier of the two teams to score again in the closing stages.

Just when penalties appeared on the cards, Kim Jin-kyu popped up to spare his side the lottery of the shootout but even that winner was more down to some haphazard defending from the opposition than Jeonbuk actually carving apart their opponents as the better sides do.

There is quality at Kim Sang-sik's disposal.

Until he was replaced at the start of extra-time, Song led the line on his own admirably and showed why he is regarded as a future star of South Korea.

As always, Kim Jin-su was a force of nature at left-back, while Paik Seung-ho had some moments of brilliance in a more-advanced No. 10 position before he was substituted.

Nonetheless, there just seems to be a distinct lack of star quality in this Jeonbuk outfit, a sentiment perhaps supported by the fact that both Gustavo and Barrow started on the bench when it is usually the imports that teams turn to in crunch time.

While Jeonbuk will only know who their quarterfinal opponents are when the draw is made on Saturday, a tougher test is bound to lie ahead considering Daegu have struggled for form all season long and are currently fourth from bottom in K League 1.

Jeonbuk could yet step up a gear or two and start to look a side capable of going all the way.

For now, it appears that the East Zone has far more legitimate contenders to reach next February's final.