Spurs come out on top as Son and Hwang face off for first time
Tottenham Hotspur advanced to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, beating Wolverhampton Wanderers on penalties in a game that saw the Premier League's two Korean strikers face off for the first time.
While it was Son Heung-min's side that emerged victorious at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England, Hwang Hee-chan played the full 90 minutes and was the only one of the Korean duo to find the back of the net.
Tottenham entered the match as the clear favorites, having beaten Wolves a few weeks earlier in the Premier League where they rank nine spots higher than the Midlands club.
Spurs left Son on the bench for the start of the game, opting instead to play Bryan Gil up front alongside Harry Kane and Giovani Lo Celso.
Midfielder Tanguy Ndombele came through first for the London club, taking the score to 1-0 just 14 minutes into the game. Nine minutes later, Kane picked up a pass from Dele Alli to take the score to 2-0 and give Spurs a comfortable lead less than 30 minutes into the game.
But Wolves fought back. Leander Dendoncker added one for the boys in yellow in the 38th minute to take the score to 2-1 going into half time, and then a second goal Daniel Podence tied things up at 2-2 in the 58th minute.
Having just watched his team throw away a 2-0 lead, Spurs head coach Nuno Espirito Santo called Son off the bench. The Korean star played the remaining 30 minutes of the game, providing Spurs with their best chance of pulling ahead — a well-placed cross that Kane was unable to head past the goalkeeper.
Hwang, meanwhile, played the full 90 minutes for Wolves. Although he was unable to score in regular time, his aggressive approach created opportunities and he came very close to doing some damage on a number of occasions.
Under Carabao Cup rules introduced last year, games in the first five rounds of the tournament jump straight to penalties if the score is tied at the end of the regular 90 minutes. With both teams level-pegging at 2-2 when the whistle blew, the game moved to the spot.
Hwang was called up first for Wolves, opposite Kane for Spurs. Both players scored to tie the penalties score at 1-1. Sergio Reguilón scored the next for Spurs, as did João Moutinho for Wolves. Things fell apart on the third penalty, when Rúben Neves missed for Wolves and Gil scored.
Wolves missed their last two penalties to give Spurs the 3-2 win with Son unneeded in the shootout.
Although the Son-Hwang faceoff didn't provide the fireworks that Korean footballing fans might have hoped for, the game was undoubtedly just the first of many. Hwang's continued confidence on the pitch and his selection first for the penalty shootout suggests that he is rapidly becoming a core part of the Wolves lineup and the two Koreans will likely find themselves on the same pitch multiple times each season.
Marking the end of their first match, Son and Hwang hugged and swapped shirts before heading to their respective dressing rooms.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]