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Son, Hwang to have their first EPL showdown

Posted September. 24, 2021 08:37,   

Updated September. 24, 2021 08:50


Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers had their first showdown in the English Premier League.

The two South Korean footballers faced off for the firs time on the first round of the 2021-2022 Carabao Cup on Thursday at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton. The first 90 minutes were tied at 2-2, and it was Tottenham who advanced to the next round 3-2 by winning the penalty shootout. Tottenham are matched up against Burnley FC for the next game.

Though neither managed to find the net, the two Korean footballers created many chances across the pitch. Hwang Hee-chan, who played full-time for the first time since he joined Wolverhampton, fought hard for the ball and made several attempts at the goal with bold penetrations. In the 45th minute, Hwang collected a cross for a header, but it went slightly over the crossbar. In the 2nd minute of the latter half, the Korean found a quick low cross from the side to volley it with his right foot, but it was blocked by a thicket of defenders.

Hwang played a pivotal role for his team to find an equalizer for the game. Putting pressure on Spurs’ buildup upfront, Hwang blocked Tanguy Ndombele’s dribbling attempt, allowing his Wolverhampton teammates Leander Dendoncker and Daniel Podence a chance to net an equalizer. In the shootout, Hwang was picked as third kicker.

Son Heung-min, who had played full-time against Chelsea on Monday after recovering from his calf injury, saw the kickoff of the game on the bench. After the first half of the game was over, Son was seen rubbing the head of Hwang Hee-chan who was going back into the locker room. It was in the 16th minute of the second half when Son was substituted into the game tied at 2-2 for a “Korean derby”. Son was not selected as a kicker for the shootout.

The last time that Korean footballers played in the same match in England was on March 17 in 2018 at the sixth round of the FA Cup between Swansea City and Tottenham when Ki Sung-yueng and Son Heung-min met on the pitch on three years and six months ago. For the EPL records, the showdown between Lee Chung-yong of Crystal Palace and Son on February 25 in 2018 is the latest.

After the game in Wolverhampton, Son and Hwang swapped their jerseys after giving each other a hug. And Hwang showed Son his back with a grin for which he complained pain after he fell over a defender in the second minute of the latter half. Tottenham posted their photo of hug on the club’s official social channel. The two South Koreans continued to chat while walking back down the tunnel. The regular season of the EPL is scheduled to return on February 13 next year.

Jae-Yeong Yoo elegant@donga.com