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‘It wasn’t just me. It was all the team members,’ says Son Heung-min

‘It wasn’t just me. It was all the team members,’ says Son Heung-min

Posted April. 19, 2019 07:48,   

Updated April. 19, 2019 07:48


Five goals were scored in the opening 21 minutes of the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) quarter-final. The final score was a 4-3 win for Man City.

This was UCL’s shortest time record to have five goals to be scored in just 21 minutes. Man City was fierce with the return of key midfielder Kevin de Bruyne in the starting lineup, after him having spent some time on the bench due to injuries and bad form up until the end of the first leg of the UCL last-eight tie. Raheem Sterling, Sergio Agüero and Bernardo Silva at the forefront left Spurs no time to breathe. Sterling was the first to find the net four minutes into the game. However, with Son Heung-min’s equalizer and another goal made three and six minutes later respectively, Spurs took a 2-1 lead. Then, City forged ahead with Silva scoring in the 11th minute of the first half, followed by Sterling’s two goals, each in the 21st minute of the first half and the 14th minute of the second half. Spurs chased City with Fernando Llorente’s goal in the 28th minute.

Although Spurs suffered a 3-4 defeat in Wednesday’s game, the aggregate scoreline is a 4-4 tie with the team’s 1-0 win in the first leg. Having scored three goals in City’s home, Spurs will progress to the semi-final on the away goals rule.

“So happy when this type of night and victory, this type of qualification for the most important competition in the world, Champions League,” said Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino who defeated Man City amid some bad luck, including the injuries of striker Harry Kane. On Son, he said the Korean was “unbelievable” and added, “Fantastic performance. He showed his quality. I am so happy with him.” The Dong-A Ilbo talked to highly praised Son Heung-min.

- How do you feel about advancing to the final four round of UCL?

“It wasn’t just me who led the team to the semi-final—it was all the team members who played well. The match was quite hectic with both teams scoring multiple goals back and forth. But we had stayed focused and never given up. We deserve some pat on the back.”

- How do you eval‎uate your own performance?

“I always try my best on the field. I am not a fan of allowing other teams to score against us. I lacked in certain areas today, yet other players had complemented well. Although I scored today, I don’t believe that it was my contribution that advanced my team to the last four round. It was thanks to other players who did great in terms of attack and defense, and took the ball away from the other team.”

- It’s been eight years since the last Korean footballer, Park Ji-Sung, played in the UCL semi-final.

"It is a great honor. But what’s ahead is far more important. This is not the end. We are so close—I hope all the players stay focused and play even better.”

- You will miss the first leg of the semi-final due to a yellow card.

“I am disappointed, of course. But other players are ready to take on (the semi-final). This is part of the sport. What’s most important now is to prepare myself from where I am while supporting my team to have a good game.”

- Tottenham will play against AFC Ajax next.

“Any team that has made the UCL semi-final list has proven themselves to be tough. We should not put our guard down, even for one moment. My team members are well aware of this.”

- What do you think about the last goal by Man City during the added minutes of the second half having been ruled out by VAR?

“I didn’t even know that VAR was being used at the moment. I was simply devastated. Personally, I am not a big fan of VAR… But I believe that it (offside) was an accurate call.”

- It is possible that Tottenham may progress to the final.

“It’s too early to talk about it. I want to focus on what’s in front of us now. All the team members feel the same way. There is no assurance or certainty that we will move to the final round. We just need to do our best from where we are now, and good outcomes will follow.”

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com