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Recap: Son Heung-min scores brace against Team K League in nine-goal thriller

It rained goals at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Wednesday night as Team K League and Tottenham Hotspur played out a nine-goal thriller with the Premier League side coming out on top 6-3. At one point early in the second half, both teams traded blows and had Team K League's best players have stayed on, something might have been made of the second period for them. But, it was all about Son Heung-min who scored two in a stadium that has become more than familiar to him over the last six or so years. 

Harry Kane got on the scoresheet too which will have come as little surprise to anyone but there was perhaps one thing that happened that wasn't expected. As was the case in 2019, the star wearing the number seven shirt wasn't in the starting lineup. Son Heung-min was left on the bench with fans made to wait for the homecoming of the South Korean national team captain.

Team K League gave a good go of it and had Cho Gue-sung, Lars Veldwijk and Amano Jun find success in font of goal but the sweeping changes made by manager Kim Sang-sik meant that, with a lack of cohesion, any chance of causing an upset wasn't really possible. 

Tottenham had Eric Dier, Harry Kane (2), and Son (2) on the scoresheet as well as Kim Jin-hyuk who became just the second South Korean to score for Tottenham's men's team. Spurs, in the end, won at a counter and could have had more goals. 

Match

Spurs kicked things off but were immediately pounced upon by Team K League. While Sonny was on the bench, the crowd were unsure of who to cheer for. The noise generated when the likes of Lee Seung-woo and Cho Gue-sung made advances toward goal was almost deafening.

Noise levels went up several notches when Tottenham's Richarlison looked like he had an open goal then Emerson Royal skewed wide. Sangam definitely didn't need the young lady over the PA system to say "round of applause".

But it wasn't really a K League crowd, certainly didn't sound like one. The "oohs" from the 64,000-strong crowd sounded more like what you would see at the Banpo Bridge fireworks display than a football match. There were even changes of Daehanminguk in the second half which made it sound like a national team game.

Any time the ball was in the middle third you could hear a pin drop but when either team got past the half-way one, the crowd made themselves heard. 

But, certainly initially, the was played in good spirits and not even the monsoonal downpours that soaked much of Seoul all day in the lead-up to the game could dampen them. 

Lucas Moura had Spurs' first shot of the match but it went wide.

Team K League's build-up play was more considered and seemed to be less risk-averse so not to show their hand too easily. Perhaps knowing that another moment on the ball in the attacking third might not come again for a while.


Things got a little bit heated when Spurs centre back Davinson Sanchez decided to have a pop at Lee Seung-woo. It was deemed that the Suwon FC forward had dived when advancing towards goal in the 18-yard box. Lee and his strike partner Cho Gue-sung made clear that that sort of finger-pointing would not be tolerated.

While Team K League had shown some promise, Spurs broke the deadlock. With 30 minutes played, Eric Dier let loose from the edge of the area left-footed into the top corner. 

In true K League style, there were a couple of first-half substitutions. As was perhaps to be expected with Kim Do-kyun acting as assistant in this, no manager has made as many first half subs then he has in K League over the last couple of seasons.

But with no U22 players to haul off as is the norm for Kim, he and his namesake had to make do with hooking the player wearing 22, Kwon Chang-hoon. Lee Seung-woo went off with him after a very positive 30-minute cameo. Another Suwon player, Lars Veldwijk, came on while Yang Hyun-jun swapped places with Kwon.

One of the highlights of the half for Team K League was the hooked clearance by Dave Bulthuis who, with a deft touch, somehow managed to pluck the ball from the air and away from goal and keep the score at 1-0.

Shortly after, Yang Hyun-jun turned former Real Madrid full back Emerson Royal inside out, danced his way through toward goal before trying to squeeze the ball into the far corner. Unfortunately, his shot rolled wide but it was a real show of skill by the young Gangwon winger.

But the goal did come as just before the referee's whistle was blown for half time, Cho Gue-sung sent in a stunning header from a wonderfully hit cross from the left by FC Seoul's Aleksander Paločević.

Half time: Team K League 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur.

FNR

Second half

At half time, Antonio Conte made a whole host of chances including bringing on Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris among aothers. Son, too came on too but once the second half had already kicked off which, it was later revealed by Conte, was on purpose so that the South Korean star could get an ovation all to himself as he came on. 

Team K League made a few subs including Kim Jin-hyuk whose first contribution was to turn the ball into his own net while trying to block Harry Kane's cross. 

Team K League replied shortly after, though. Lars Veldwijk found space on the edge of the box before guiding the ball into the bottom corner.

But almost immediately, Harry Kane was on target for Tottenham to cap off a hectic start to the second period. 

At this point, it wasn't completely clear what the score was. The big screen in the stadium said 3-2 to Spurs, the Coupang Play stream said 2-2. Kim Jin-hyuk's own goal seemed to go unnoticed by the PA announcer.

Any semblance of structure went out the window for Team K League as soon as sweeping changes were made at half time. Similar to how things were three years ago in that second half against Juventus.

And then, as if it was a testimonial, the referee awarded a mysterious penalty to Tottenham. Amano Jun the pantomime villain with what was judged to have been a handball. No prizes for guessing who took the spot kick as Son stepped up to convert, sending Kim Young-kwang the wrong way. After the goal we got confirmation that it was 4-2 to Spurs. Unluckyfor  Kim Jin-hyuk who might have hought he got away with his own goal.

And then, almost as if the match was scripted, Amano Jun was given the chance to make up his ghost handball with a shooting opportunity from a free-kick. While getting ready, the Ulsan Hyundai midfielder gestured to the camera that it wasn't a handball. 

Handball or not, the Japanese was able to atone by scoring a free-kick from way outside the box. This made it 4-3.

What happened next was not expected. Kim Dong-min going off script was sent off after dragging down the main protagonist Son Heung-min on the edge of the box. Spurs, then, had the chance to score from a free-kick on the edge of the box.



The usual suspects stood over it: Lucas Moura, Harry Kane and Son. Kane took it and drove the ball into the bottom corner to make it 5-3.

Son Heung-min made it 6-3 late on, pouncing on a loose ball and rolling it into the back of the net. Cue the customary knee slide and picture frame celebration. 

Full time: Team K League 3-6 Tottenham Hotpsur


How was the event overall?

Overall, it was enjoyable. The big club from Europe arrived on time meaning the game could kick off as scheduled at 8PM. There were some good goals in the game too - from both teams. In fact all three of Team K League's goals are worth re-watching. Also, the number seven from the visiting team actually appeared and scored.

But K League could have done more to reach fans overseas. The game wasn't available to watch anywhere else other than Coupang Play in Korea and Spursplay outside of Asia. Not even having an English version of the lineup graphic was a bit of an own goal. Why make it difficult? 



The squad announcement came too late, less than a week until the game and the kit was awful. There was a good bit of merch on sale though, them K League t-shirts and hats which, in fairness, looked very smart. 

Who were Team K League's standout performers?

In the first half, Lee Seung-woo and Paik Seung-ho both showed their class. Lee looked lively and had he been on the pitch for longer than 30 minutes, he would probably have scored. Paik was composed and his choice of passes was always intelligent. 

Cho Gue-sung was excellent too and looks more and more a cert for the World Cup this winter. Yang Hyun-jun was a real handful while Lars Veldwijk showed why he came close to the golden boot last year and Dave Bulthuis was the all-action centre back that K League fans have gotten used to seeing.

Park Seung-wook deserves a mention too. He played about an hour and had a solid game but what's more impressive is the journey he's been on over the last 18 months. From K3 to K League 1, the AFC Champions League Final and then a K League "all-star". 

Post-match Audio

Listen to what was said after the match in the press conference and the mixed zone on KLU Patreon.

Antonio Conte: here

Lars Veldwijk: here

Lineups

Team K League

Tottenham Hotspur 


KLU Patreon

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