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Hwang Hee-chan scores a goal in his UCL debut game

Posted September. 19, 2019 07:18,   

Updated September. 19, 2019 07:18


South Korean footballer Hwang Hee-chan drew the scouters’ attention in his UEFA Champions League (UCL) debut game on Wednesday. The Red Bull Salzburg forward came away with one goal and two assists, helping his team beat the KRC Genk in the Champions League group stage opener.

Hwang, who played as the team’s one of the two forwards with Erling Haaland, ran towards the net for a long left-wing cross in the 36th minute and tucked it in the right corner past the Genk’s goalkeeper. The 23-year-old managed to score a clear and concise goal, only changing the direction of the ball. With the goal, Hwang became the second youngest Korean footballer to score in the UCL, followed by Song Heung-min who scored at the age of 22 in the UCL game against the FC Copenhagen. It is quite impressive given that Hwang scored a goal in his UCL debut game.

Hwang also assisted Haaland’s goals in the 35th and 45th minutes. Haaland scored a hat-trick on Wednesday, contributing to his team’s 6-2 victory. The WhoScored.com gave Hwang 10 points, even higher than Haaland’s 9.5 for Wednesday’s performance.

Hwang’s ability to penetrate through defenders really stood out. Hwang recently played as a right-winger for the South Korean national football team led by Paulo Bento. It was meant to leverage Hwang’s penetrating ability but the position was not suitable for Hwang as it required much defense efforts. Many argued that Hwang should play as a forward in the national team. But currently Son Heung-min and Hwang Ui-jo are the two forwards for the national team. It is not easy for Hwang to compete against them. But if Hwang continues to show stellar performance as a forward, it could change Bento’s tactic.

The scouters of big European clubs are already interested in Hwang. As many as 50 scouters from Barcelona FC, Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Borussia Dortmund reportedly watched the game at the stadium. It remains to be seen if Hwang could prove his worth and join a European big club.

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com