January 27, 2013
[Sunday morning 9:50 am] Blogging on the run much like yesterday. Just minutes ago Son Heung-Min scored his 7th goal of the season for Hamburg, and what a cracker of a goal! –but the headline might change, this is a fluid situation as the Hamburg’s game with Werder Bremen is live in the 40th minute. Son’s goal provided the crucial equalizer, score is 1-1 and just in time for Rafael Van der Vaart’s return from injury.
Update: thanks to a link from twitter blogger @Celta18Park, we have a video from a South Korean media source (for a short time before it gets shut down. Watch it here.
Here’s a youtube video of the 23rd minute goal (with Korean commentary):
UPDATE: the day is long over, but the memory of the goal and the game still lingers. If you didn’t get to catch it, the quick recap: Son was epic. He was everywhere on the pitch today, precise passing, great movement, and unlike some of his earlier appearances this year, he’s been far better today at holding onto the ball when challenged. Hamburg scored 2 more times (and looked like they could’ve scored several more), with Son involved in each of the other goals. His header gave Dennis Aogo a clear shot at goal right after the half, and he didn’t flinch – assist: Son. Later, Son connected again with Aogo, with the Nigerian international delivering a cross to Rudnevs for another well executed finish in the 52nd. Good thing they got that insurance goal as Werder Bremen roared right back into the game almost a minute later with a killer counterattack, yet another Hamburg defensive error and Werder Bremen was back in it, just down 3-2. Hamburg’s offense kept Werder Bremen on their heels still and could’ve extended their lead several times. In particular, Son’s cross to Van der Vaart found him in the box, nearly one on one with the keeper – his shot went wide of the net. Son had his own moment to further the lead in the 85th minute, with Rudnev’s cross getting to Son near the corner of the box, but with a fabulous opportunity to knock it in, Son’s one timer rang off his boot high and wide. The only downside to his brilliant performance today was 5 times getting whistled offsides (one of which could’ve led to an excellent scoring opportunity and called back -with replays later showing Son well onsides). Subbed off in the 89th minute, Hamburg went on to fight off several Werder Bremen attacks, despite the visitors being down 9 men from 2 red card violations. Hamburg sweated it out for several long minutes, but emerged victorious in the northern Derby. Those 3 crucial points put Hamburg moves up to 9th place in the Bundesliga table, and with 28 points are just a mere point away from the 7th and last automatic qualifying spot for the Europa League. Might we see Hamburg and Son facing off against Swansea and Ki next season?
Later today, new transfer for Maritimo, Suk Hyun-Jun may make his debut for his new Portuguese side...UPDATE: he came onto the pitch in the 58th minute for what ended up as a 1-1 draw with Rio Ave.
FRIDAY: In Ligue 2 action, new Caen transfer Kim Kyung-Jung played for about 45 minutes in a scoreless game between Clermont and Caen.
The Korean duo of Koo Ja-Cheol and Sunderland loanee Ji Dong-Won once again were dynamic and provided the spark for the sharp Augsburg offense against Schalke. Let’s go to ESPN FC to set the scene:
“Schalke failed to build on their win over Hannover last weekend as they were lucky to get a point from their trip to struggling Augsburg, who had the better chances in a goalless draw in Bavaria. South Korean duo Ji Dong-Won and Ja-Cheol Koo made it look easy breaking down the Royal Blues’ defence, but poor finishing or the reactions of [keeper] Timo Hildebrand prevented them from winning a second successive game for the first time all season…Ji went close to opening his Augsburg account in the fifth minute, but he sent his shot over Hildebrand’s goal. Ji set up Koo for a chance in the 11th minute, but he was unable to get past Austrian defender Christian Fuchs as Schalke defended strongly against a very bright Augsburg side. Koo went close to giving the hosts the lead in the 29th minute, but Hildebrand made a good save low down to deny him…Augsburg’s South Korean combination kept Hildebrand busy early in the second half as the Bavarians continued to play with a self-confidence which belied their league position. Koo set up Sascha Molders to hit the left-hand post in the 69th minute as the home team continued to cause Schalke problems.”
In the end, despite the offensive onslaught towards the end of regulation, Augsburg couldn’t get it past Hildebrand for the win. Nevertheless, it was an encouraging sign that ‘Augsburg Style’ is not afraid to go head to head against the top teams in the Bundesliga, and surprise other clubs with their newfound offensive swagger. It’s only a matter of time before Ji and Koo strikes again. The scoreless draw comes against a team in 6th place, and for their efforts, the point earned now take Augsburg out of the bottom two spots for the first time all year; they are now in 16th place, moving just above Hoffenheim on goal difference. More stats: Augsburg held an impressive 57% possession of the ball versus Schalke’s 43%. Augsburg took 14 shots (5 from Ji and Koo combined). For their part Schalke got in 11 shots. Ji has really gelled with the team since joining at the beginning of the month, and the new Koo/Ji combo has revitalized Augsburg’s offensive engine.
In other German football action, Park Jung-Bin made his 2nd appearance since going on loan to Greuther Furth. They hosted Mainz on Saturday and lost 0-3. Park subbed in the 69th minute for Zoltan Stieber and had by some accounts as having a decent performance. The Tavern didn’t get to tune into the match, but we are going to reconstruct his time on pitch via ESPN FC’s live commentary:
75′ Attempt blocked. Thomas Kleine (SpVgg Greuther Fürth) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jung Bin Park with a cross.
78′ Attempt blocked. Jung Bin Park (SpVgg Greuther Fürth) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Matthias Zimmermann.
82′ Attempt saved. Jung Bin Park (SpVgg Greuther Fürth) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Milorad Pekovic.
87′ Attempt missed. Baba Rahman (SpVgg Greuther Fürth) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Jung Bin Park following a corner.
…and that’s the ballgame. Greuther Furth remains dead last in the Bundesliga table.
Lee Chung-Yong played 90 minutes in Bolton’s 1-2 loss to Everton in FA Cup action. Bolton had momentum through a good stretch of the match when Marvin Sordell drove in a 27th minute equalizer, and they might have gone ahead had Lee been able to bring his 2 shots on target. In the end, Everton substitute put Bolton’s FA Cup ambitions on ice with a late stoppage time goal. The Tavern didn’t get to have the game on, but from what we’ve been able to gather, Lee’s overall had a good game despite the scoreline.
Alarming developments for Park Ji-Sung, who captained an embarrassing assortment of QPR castaways in their 2-4 FA Cup loss to the MK Dons, a League 1 outfit. Park was the only player Rednapp subbed out, and with boos raining down as he walked off the pitch, he took the brunt of Loftus Road’s fury at losing to a team 31 places lower on the English pro football rung. Harry Rednapp spoke to the media afterwords, “I gave them a chance today because they knock on my door and say they should be playing and other people tell me they are all good players…well, they got their chance today and they blew it. It answers questions – not for me because I already knew the answer, but for other people. Today they saw the answers.”
To which the Tavern asks, was this a set up for Park? There’s no doubt big Harry has only escape from relegation as his one overriding goal; the FA Cup matches are exhibition games as far as he or anyone else on the QPR staff are concerned. That a motley collection of players were haphazardly sent out, can Park really be expected to lift up his team if his mates like Anton Ferdinand were caught napping and responsible for the 4 goals they let slip by? Rob Green was the goal keeper for buddha’s sake. That is a lineup that, with less than a handful of quality players on the starting XI, isn’t going to win a ballgame. What I’m about to propose is conjecture, yet I don’t think is too far from the truth: Harry calculated that if the team did poorly, what with the haphazard roster he cobbled up, trotting out Ji-Sung with the captain’s armband was a set up from the start, a prelude to his contrived self fulfilling prophesy given at the post game conference. Park’s rude reception by the angry Loftus Road mob following his substitution will undoubtedly force Yun Suk-Young to wonder whether he chose poorly over the weekend in transferring to his European team of choice (Fulham being the other last minute candidate). If Yun publicly stated his worry about facing racism from fans, he’s now joined a team sporting a fanbase that, according to the lastest QPR online forums, have their share of racist comments directed towards Park, again as the patsy bearing the supporter’s frustrations over a horrific season. Racism has no place on or off the pitch, and some of the QPR’s supporter’s reactions to Park in this fashion is quite telling.
We need to make clear that the Tavern does not want to be an apologist for Park’s contributions over the course of the season: to be fair, he’s had some middling performances in a number of matches, possibly due to his reoccurring knee problems and possibly due to his not being a young man in his 20’s anymore. Still, when analyzing his games for QPR, a number of them (including QPR’s first encounter with Chelsea resulting in an impressive draw) were class performances. But no matter what, the context of Park’s quality in any of the games in the first half of the season is lost in the turbulence of his team losing so many matches thus far. In a league puntuated by characters who may value individual valor over team, Ji-Sung is the quintessential team player, but what if there’s no team chemistry to speak of? The gamble he took in transferring to a team that promised more playing time was risky; the unknown factor of how this team would compose themselves is now clear -and for this round temporarily, Park emerges as the loser. But let’s not kid ourselves, QPR’s loss on Saturday isn’t on the level of humiliation like Aston Villa losing to 4th tier Bradford in the League Cup semifinals last week (or Arsenal and Wigan losing to the same team in earlier League Cup ties). We can now add Liverpool and Tottenham to the list of high profile Premier League clubs losing in spectacular fashion to minnows in FA Cup action this weekend, not to mention Chelsea’s draw with Brentford -so it’s not just QPR with a bag to hide one’s head in.
Park Chu-Young started for Celta Vigo at the Balaidos against Real Sociedad. The Tavern had the game on, but was distracted by his children wanting attention or some bullsh*t like that (just kidding, I love my children -but really they need to go outside to play next time Apa is focusing on a match).
Before really tuning in with notepad in hand in the 37th minute, from what I’ve been able to piece together, Park didn’t get to see much of the ball initially. Instead it was Michael Krohn-Dehli’s day, knocking in a go ahead goal in the 32nd minute. He was pumped, and with renewed sense of confidence, he kept right on shooting. From the point I was able to finally focus, Park had himself a decent all around game. He was driving the ball up the right side aggressively and tracked back for some defensive slide tackles to pry the ball loose from the Basque players. Celta’s main forward, Iago Aspas got hurt with a back injury and had to be subbed out for Lopez Alex Sanchez right before the half ended. The momentum Celta had was snapped by the 2nd half with a completely mistaken call by the refs; in the 49th minute, handball interference was called on Augusto Fernandez and he was sent off with a red card. Replays however showed Fernandez didn’t even handle the ball. Despite being witled down to 10 men, Park Chu-Young drove the ball deep in Real Sociedad’s penalty area, managed a lovely play to get around a defender closing in on him, and blasted off an angled shot at net. Claudio Bravo certainly earned his last name by managing to react quickly to block Chu-Young’s shot. It went out for a corner kick, but Celta weren’t able to convert. Manager Paco Herrera was thinking defensively to try to preserve the 1-0 lead, but taking out Bermejo for Pranjic wasn’t enough and Real Sociedad found their equalizer in the 59th minute. He made another defensive substitution shortly after, and Park was out for Nacho Insa. Celta did hold on to the 1-1 draw, not before Park was somehow penalized with a yellow card in the 86th minute while sitting on the bench. It wasn’t clear what his infraction was, so I asked blogger Santiago Perez -who was at the game, what that was all about. His answer via text was brief: trash talk. Huh! I never figured Park for a trash talker, that seems so uncharacteristically ‘gangster’ of him. Paco Herrera couldn’t believe the call, and in disputing it, got sent off the pitch. There could be a case made that this should’ve been a win and 3 points for Celta, but the refs botched call against Fernandez made quite a difference in the outcome of the score.
That’s it for the Tavern tonight. Tomorrow there’ll be a new post on tonight’s election results – there’s a new President of the Korean FA. The Tavern almost posted about it tonight, but it’s waaaaay too late over here (2am). It’s actually some potentially exciting stuff, and with some help from a poster in the BigSoccer.com Koreans (BSK) forum, we’ll break it down for you, and what it may mean for the future of Korean football. Good night!