Park scores his first goal of the season

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Park scores his first goal of the season

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Manchester United’s Korean midfielder Park Ji-sung celebrates scoring the third goal during an English Premier League football match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday. [AFP]

It took 24 matches but Park Ji-sung of Manchester United scored his first goal of the 2009-10 season in a league match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in London, England, early yesterday.

With Manchester United nursing a comfortable two-goal lead into the second half, Park put the game out of reach for the Gunners in the 52nd minute of the match. While Ryan Giggs, Antonio Valencia and Nani had been favored by manager Alex Ferguson much of this season, Park was given the start at left wing position and nearly played the entire match. Park teamed with Nani and Wayne Rooney to spearhead the Reds’ attack. Park displayed his usual active style of play and seemed to get better as time progressed. In the early goings of the second half, Park received a pass from Michael Carrick and dribbled down the field about 25 meters before calmly releasing a shot past Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia in the 52nd minute of the match. Park received a score of seven for his effort from Sky Sports.

Park’s goal is his first since a goal he scored against Middlesbrough on May 2, 2009. Park was substituted out of the match for Valencia with three minutes remaining in regulation.

“I thought I would score my first goal before the end of the season,” stated Park in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo. “It’s true it came a bit late but using this goal as a stepping-stone, I will work hard to produce many more.”

Park’s goal comes on the heels of Lee Chung-yong’s goal for the Bolton Wanderers last week and Park Chu-young’s two-goal effort over the weekend. Park has scored nine goals and added three assists for AS Monaco of French Ligue 1 this season while Lee of Bolton has scored five goals and added five assists in his rookie season in the English Premier League.

The three players are considered the top choices to head Korea’s attack at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. With national team manager Huh Jung-moo testing a formation of 3-4-3, many analysts are expecting Park Chu-young to take on the center forward position with Park Ji-sung and Lee playing left and right forward positions, respectively. While Huh had been desperately searching for a sniper among a pool of domestic players at a recent national training camp and friendly matches, none have impressed him.

“Park and Lee are playing well. I am happy for them,” said Park Ji-sung. “I think Park Chu-young and Lee Chung-yong’s success in Europe will be a big help to Korean football. It will also lead the way for other young players to sign on with European clubs.”

In a league match against the third-place Gunners, Manchester United’s Nani of Portugal, who was switched from his usual left winger position to the right side, opened the scoring in the 33rd minute. Wayne Rooney notched his 20th goal of the season in the 37th minute

Although Thomas Vermaelen managed to score Arsenal’s lone goal in the 80th minute, the Gunners failed to muster a comeback. With the win, Manchester United improved its record to 17 wins, two draws and five losses to move within one point of the English Premier League standings leaders Chelsea. Park and his teammates will host Portsmouth this weekend while Arsenal will visit Chelsea on Monday.


By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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