Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min made a quick turnaround to appear in South Korea’s 2-0 victory over China in the AFC Asian Cup. Heung-min played a full match in the Tottenham’s loss to Manchester United on Sunday but managed to make it Dubai to play 89 minutes in a crucial game for South Korea. Serving as captain, Heung-min guided his side to a victory that places South Korea on top of Group C.
So far in the tournament, South Korea has remained unbeaten. Wednesday’s crucial match against China called into question whether Heung-min would be able to make the journey to Dubai to help capture a crucial result. Prior to the start of the knockout stage, South Korea is primed to be a major contender to secure a spot in the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.
South Korea Upends China 2-0
With Heung-min starring in the center of coach Paulo Bento’s 4-2-3-1 attacking formation, South Korea applied the pressure to China early. Striker Hwang Ui-jo got the struck first by converting a penalty in the minute 14 of the first half. After the break, defender Kim Manjae padded the lead with a goal in minute 51. With the two-goal advantage, Heung-min was subbed off in minute 89.
South Korea dictated the pace of Wednesday’s match for long stretches. Upon the final whistle, Bento’s squad controlled possession for 61 percent of the game and forced Chinese keeper Yan Junling to make six saves. With the victory, South Korea recorded its first multi-goal victory of group play.
Strong Play for Tottenham
Heung-min has been a steady producer of goals throughout the Tottenham’s current English Premier League campaign. He has started in 12 matches and formed a dangerous partnership will fellow attacker Harry Kane. So far this season, Heung-min has recorded eight goals and five assists. His goal total trails only Kane on the entire Hotspur’s squad.
Starting with a 3-1 victory over Southampton on December 5, Tottenham has secured victories in six of their last eight contests. That strong run of results has lifted them to the third position on the table. Currently, the Hotspur only trail Liverpool by eight points in the race for first place. Outside of chasing Liverpool, Tottenham is tightly sandwiched between Manchester City and Chelsea in the standings.
With South Korea contending for the Asian Cup title, Tottenham could be without Heung-min for three next three fixtures. With a daunting schedule looming after the tournament, South Korea’s coach explained to Bein Sports that he will closely monitor his captain’s workload.
“Of course we know how many matches he has played in the last months,” he [Bento] said. “We also know that he is a very important player for our team.”
Tottenham will return to action to face a struggling Fulham squad on Sunday. The Hotspur have a decent chance to bounce back from their recent loss to United when they visit Craven Cottage this weekend.