Son Heung-Min scores crucial brace as Hamburg hunts for Europa qualification

Last time “Sonny” scored for Hamburg SV, it was an a remarkable brace in their complete destruction of Borussia Dortmund, a 4-1 victory over a month ago. Since then, other than a late game winning goal in an international World Cup qualifier for the Taeguk Warriors in late March, he’s had a bit of a scoring slump (including some of the roughest results on record for Hamburg – a 9-2 epic loss to Bayern Munich that the club would like to quickly forget). Playing at Mainz, Hamburg needed a victory to remain in the race for a Europa League qualifying spot, and they got one- a 1-2 victory with Son scoring both goals in the 2nd half.

Son hero of day
Son earned Hero of the Day distinction with his 10th and 11th goal of the season for Hamburg. Photo/HSV FB

 

The first came in the 61st, Rafael Van der Vaart through pass found Son in the area -his shot clanged off the crossbar and wound up behind the net. The Van der Vaart-Son connection is back on:

The second goal is the one everyone’s talking about, and you’ll see why in a moment.

[Stay tuned: later on the post has Lee Chung-Yong, Kim Bo-Kyung and Ji Dong-Won updates]

As Son was going one on one with the keeper, one of Mainz’ defenders didn’t do any favors by sliding into his keeper just as he was coming out to cut off Son. Rounding everyone, the hard work out of the way, Son’s shot produced his 11th goal for the club.

A number of clubs around Europe are keeping their eye on Son, which prompted Rafael Van der Vaart to repeat his advice recently to the young 20 year old to stay at Hamburg where he’s a star, not just a future prospect. Nevertheless, Here is the City blog claimed that Tottenham is working behind the scenes to give Hamburg a financial windfall for the Korean. Arsenal, Inter, Chelsea and Bayern Munich, as the blog mentioned, are tentatively linked as well.

Son’s 11th goal also matches him up with teammate Artjoms Rudnevs as well has placing himself back into the top 10 overall for goals scored in Germany thus far.

 

>> Meanwhile in other Saturday’s action, Bolton’s Lee Chung-Yong had a hand in their first goal against Bristol City in just the opening 2 minutes.  Here’s Bolton’s twitter feed:

Lee continued his fine form to play the full 90 minutes. Bolton defeated Bristol City 1-2 and with the win, put themselves in a English Championship playoff position for the first time all season. This late push is giving hope that their momentum will propel the club back to the Premiership, an outcome hard to conceive for Bolton supporters only a few months ago.

>>More good news: Cardiff City defeated Nottingham Forest at Cardiff City Stadium by a score of 3-0, bringing them a mere point / game away from winning automatic promotion into the Premiership next season. Cardiff’s win also spoiled Nottingham’s 10 game unbeaten streak. The last time Cardiff appeared at the 1st tier of English football: 1962. The Bluebirds were in particular good form, gelled together by a certain Kim Bo-Kyung. Here’s Cardiff’s twitter feed during the match:

and here’s another,

So as you can parse, Kim and his team had a brilliant day all around on Saturday. How to summarize the quick thinking, spot-on distribution, and near goal-strikes? We’ll leave it to ESNP FC to describe the waning moments before the inevitable: “Karl Darlow in the Forest goal made a wonderful save after Kim’s silky dribble, before Bellamy hit the outside of the post with the goal gaping from Gunnarsson’s ball across the box as Cardiff cruised to victory.” [Tavern note: Gotta love that description: silky dribble. I’ll have to store that in my compendium of great adjectives to use in sport descriptions]. Here’s a short sampling of some of Kim’s touches and shots in the 2nd half:

[we’re joking here, but the owner Vincent Tan, who appears in the middle of the video, seems dressed for the part of some far eastern mob syndicate. Some longtime Bluebird supporters -seeing red over his decision to change the home kit colors -may in fact hold that opinion in earnest].

Previously, it has not been all wine and roses as Kim has battled throughout the season to regain his starting position -this being his 3rd game in a row as part of the starting XI since April 1st. Before that match against Blackburn (in which he won Man of the Match), Kim had not appeared in a single minute for Cardiff in over a month. Kim’s good form of late will no doubt earn him a call up in South Korea’s next World Cup qualifier. Last note: Kim was sporting a blue knee brace in the match. Not to obsess over details, but it’s just something to note -and whatever reason for the brace, it obviously didn’t affect his performance on the pitch. With promotion a win or draw away, no doubt it will be bedlam & chaos – in the grand and positive sense on Tuesday when Cardiff City hosts Charlton Athletic on Tuesday – game time 3pm EST/ 4 am Korea time.

>>>One not so bright spot on the day, Park Ji-Sung and QPR march ever closer to the relegation drop, what with a 2-0 loss away against Everton. Park actually got the start, but his team seemed almost resigned to the notion that they may become one of the highest salaried team to drop in recent Premiership memory. Park eventually got subbed out in the 63rd minute for Taarabt, but obviously it didn’t change the scoreline. Yun Suk-Young did not make the 18 man roster at Goodison Park.

 

Sunday: Ji Dong-Won scored in the 27th minute for Augsburg against Eintracht Frankfurt. Game is still live as we post -every game is essential now for Augsburg to get out of relegation. Score is still 1-0 Augsburg].

UPDATE: Ji lit up Eintracht Frankfurt again in the 55th minute – adding an insurance goal to win Sunday afternoon. Excellent finish. See the video (with Korean commentary):

ESPN FC described the Sunderland loanee this way: “Ji was at the heart of everything, creating and, as he showed in the 27th minute, also finishing their attacks.” Ji nearly had a hat trick under his belt, but his halftime strike was harshly disallowed. Earlier, Augsburg missed their first opportunity to double their lead, with Jan Ingwer Callsen-Bracker sending a penalty kick high over the crossbars and into outer space. However Eintracht Frankfurt, despite a late game flurry of action to catch up, never was able to get one past Augsburg’s keep.

With the victory, they helped Son Heung-Min’s Hamburg remain only a point away from the last Europa League qualifying spot -which Eintracht Frankfurt holds precariously at 42 points. Also on Sunday, Borussia M’gladbach lost to Stuttgart, further aiding Hamburg’s quest at the moment.

OVERALL HOME AWAY
POS TEAM P W D L F A W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Bayern Munich 29 25 3 1 83 13 12 2 1 52 11 13 1 0 31 2 70 78
2 Borussia Dortmund 29 17 7 5 72 35 9 2 3 36 16 8 5 2 36 19 37 58
3 Bayer Leverkusen 29 14 8 7 53 38 9 3 2 27 14 5 5 5 26 24 15 50
4 Schalke 04 29 13 7 9 50 45 9 3 3 30 19 4 4 6 20 26 5 46
5 SC Freiburg 29 12 9 8 39 34 7 4 4 22 16 5 5 4 17 18 5 45
6 Eintracht Frankfurt 29 12 6 11 42 44 7 3 4 26 20 5 3 7 16 24 -2 42
7 Borussia Monchengladbach 29 10 11 8 36 39 7 5 2 23 15 3 6 6 13 24 -3 41
8 Hamburg SV 29 12 5 12 34 46 7 1 6 15 15 5 4 6 19 31 -12 41
9 Mainz 29 10 9 10 36 34 7 4 4 20 15 3 5 6 16 19 2 39

The win of course helped out tremendously in Augsburg’s efforts to get out of relegation.  With 3 points sealed up today, they move to within 3 points of safety, currently held by Fortuna Dusseldorf. If the season were to end today, Augsburg would not be automatically relegated, but would have to play a one game playoff with the 3rd place 2.bundesliga team. Here’s the bottom 6 of the table.

OVERALL HOME AWAY
POS TEAM P W D L F A W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
13 VfL Wolfsburg 29 8 10 11 35 45 2 7 6 15 26 6 3 5 20 19 -10 34
14 Werder Bremen 29 8 8 13 45 56 5 3 6 20 24 3 5 7 25 32 -11 32
15 Fortuna Düsseldorf 29 7 9 13 35 45 5 6 4 22 24 2 3 9 13 21 -10 30
16 FC Augsburg 29 6 9 14 27 44 3 5 7 13 21 3 4 7 14 23 -17 27
17 TSG Hoffenheim 29 6 6 17 35 54 4 4 7 18 25 2 2 10 17 29 -19 24
18 SpVgg Greuther Furth 29 2 9 18 19 52 0 4 11 7 31 2 5 7 12 21 -33 15
Ji deserves his own post, so much of this report will be repeated.

Earlier FC Basel cruised to a 3-1 victory over Zurich. Park Joo-Ho not in the 18 man roster (possible hamstring injury in their PK win over Spurs midweek to advance to the Europa League semifinals. They face Chelsea on April 25). FC Basel had just recently regained 1st place in the Super Swiss League, an automatic berth into next season’s Champions League.

MONDAY tune into Celta Vigo’s clash with Mallorca (3pm EST/ 4am Korea time). BeInSports is broadcasting that in the US, Park Chu-Young may get another chance for his club in their fight to stave off relegation in La Liga.

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