A lot has happened over the past few days in Korean football, and a lot has happened behind the scenes at the Tavern as well. We’ve got some announcements to make in the coming days that will shape the future of this website and this community, and I think you’ll like them – but I digress. Settle in to your Friday morning at work with a cup of Joe (or soju if you’re the rambunctious type) and let’s look at the week that was, and the weekend to be, in Korean football.
Son Heungmin sends Spurs past Dortmund… again!
Son Heungmin has done it again. He’s scored against Dortmund, again.
After an abysmal defensive display against Arsenal at the Emirates last weekend, in which Son only played a few minutes as a substitute, Mauricio Pochettino took his men to the Signal Idura Park where Dortmund were the foes. A win would secure victory in a group that contained the reigning European Champions Real Madrid.
Spurs lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Son and Kane the strikers. It would be (by memory) a second start for Son in the lone forward position, and it is telling that Pochettino has played this shape in the last three Champions League games – perhaps he sees its value in Europe.
Regardless, the first half was honestly pretty sloppy from Spurs, which was disappointing given it was against a Dortmund side struggling under Peter Bosz, without Christian Pulisic and limping after a battering loss to Stuttgart earlier in the week. But Spurs’ slow start allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang opened the scoring for Dortmund. In the second half, however, everything changed, with Dele Alli properly growing into the game and Dortmund being put on the back foot in part due to a disjointedness that has become their everything this season. So it was Harry Kane who brought things level before Son unleashed this strike:
Let’s be honest, it’s really superb work once again from Dele Alli, but Son does really well here to call for the ball, realize he’s not getting it, stepping back into space and making no mistake with a perfectly placed curler. It was Son’s 8th goal in 10 games against Dortmund, a record that spans across three clubs: Hamburg, Bayer Leverkusen and Spurs. It’s also his third Champions League goal this year.
Son won the Man of the Match award on numerous channels and publications for his performance, earning raving reviews:
“The moment Tottenham were waiting for arrived when Alli, showing great determination and skill, bustled past a series of weak challenges and into the area before finding Son, who curled a peach of a shot past Burki.” – The Guardian
“Son Heung-min proved the scourge of Borussia Dortmund again as his late winner ensured Tottenham will go through to the Champions League last 16 as group winners.” – RTE
Son Heung-min, 7 — Lively with his runs in behind Dortmund’s defence. The South Korean was caught offside a few times but, like against Crystal Palace in his previous start, he produced a clinical winner and has now scored eight times in 10 matches against Dortmund. – ESPN FC
“Son is so important for us and will be important for us.” – Mauricio Pochettino
“When Tottenham play two up front, Son gives them space and time, because he’s prepared to run in behind. Then Harry [Kane] can find the little pockets. Son is a very clever player. I think this suits him better than when he plays out wide.” – BT Sport’s Glenn Hoddle
Here’s a ball-touch/highlight video of Son Heungmin. You can see him really affecting the game by sifting into channels and space, and making runs to stretch the defense (though he got offside twice). It allowed them to batter a bruised Dortmund defense and it worked, Son getting a fair amount of half-chances before his goal.
To see Spurs top their group in this year’s group of death is a highly encouraging sign, and one that has the statistics community beginning to bet on Tottenham as dark horses to go deep in this Champions League, with the 7th best chance to win it all:
— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) November 21, 2017
Spurs certainly have come a long way from when they were brushed away two seasons ago in the Europa League against Dortmund. Can we start dreaming again of a Korean hoisting the Champions League trophy? Sure, why not. (Can we start converting me into a Spurs fan? Definitively, no.)
With 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 starts across all competitions, suffice it to say that Son is rounding into form.
Hwang Heechan Scores
Despite an underwhelming season thus for due to injury problems, Hwang returned to the Europa League in a substitute appearance, his 4th cap in European continental competition. And as in his last two caps in the UEL, Hwang didn’t disappoint in his 29-minute cameo by scoring the third goal for Salzburg against Portugueuse side Vitoria:
Though there are still signs of rust visibly from that video, including being a little over-aggressive in the tackle and some iffy touches, Hwang definitely looks desperate to get back into the side. He’s closing down really hard, pressing the backline aggressively, painting the corners, getting stuck in, and running after every chance. His finish is a good, thumping, assertive hit, though with the keeper out of position, there’s not much to look into there. Hopefully Hwang can continue on this good return from injury.
Lee Jinhyun played garbage minutes for Austria Wien in their Europa League loss.
As it stands, Red Bull Salzburg are through as group winners to the Round of 32, beating out Portugal’s Vitoria, Turkey’s Konyaspor and France’s Marseille; Austria Wien need a win at home against AEK Athens to secure a spot in the knockout stages in the final matchday of Europa League action.
The Champions League and Europa League will return in two weeks’ time!
We’ve been aggregating content from Korean Footballers Abroad, so that’s what I’ll get around to in the morning. I’ll be sure to update the post and let you all know when I do.
I think Skimmilk has been busy, so we’ll go ahead with our own listings this weekend.
|Saturday||9:30 AM||Koo Ja Cheol||Augsburg||Wolfsburg||Fox Match Pass|
|Saturday||9:30 AM||Ji Dong Won||Augsburg||Wolfsburg||Fox Match Pass|
|Saturday||10:00 AM||Son Heung Min||Tottenham||WBA||CNBC|
|Saturday||10:00 AM||Lee Chung Yong||Crystal Palace||Stoke||NBC Gold|
|Saturday||10:00 AM||Ki Sung Yueng||Swansea||Bournemouth||NBC Gold|
|Saturday||12:00 PM||Lee Seung Woo||Hellas Verona||@Sassuolo||BeIn Play|
|Saturday||2:00 PM||Suk Hyun Jun||Troyes||Angers||BeIn Play|
|Saturday||2:00 PM||Kwon Chang Hoon||Dijon||Toulouse|
|Sunday||10:30 AM||Hwang Hee Chan||RB Salzburg||@Rapid Wien|