Hat trick makes Hwang France's top Asian goal scorer
Bordeaux striker Hwang Ui-jo picked up his first hat trick in France on Sunday, beating Strasbourg three times to become the greatest Asian goal scorer in the history of the French Ligue 1.
Hwang got Bordeaux on the board early, scoring his first goal of the game in the 17th minute at Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux. A second goal from Alberth Elis in the 21st minute extended the lead, before Hwang piled on with goals in the 39th and 90th minute. Strasbourg didn't go down without a fight, scoring three of their own to finish the game at a close 4-3.
All three of Hwang's goals arrived in spectacular fashion, taking advantage of his considerable speed to deliver in a number of different ways.
For the first goal, Hwang was able to rush through the box to pick up a stray cross and hammer it into the top left corner of the goal. The second goal was perhaps the most impressive, with Hwang picking up a long cross deep in the Strasbourg half, beating a defender and sending the ball flying past the goalkeeper with his left foot from outside the box.
For goal No. 3, Hwang got the ball just past the halfway line and sprinted the length of the pitch, again beating the sole defender to send a low shot skidding across the goal and past the goalkeeper. Like the second goal, Hwang's finish came from outside the box.
The win gave Bordeaux a much-needed three points on the back of a three-game losing streak that sees the club languishing in 17th place in the 20-team league.
The hat trick also earned Hwang his spot in French football history as Ligue 1's top Asian scorer.
The record was previously held by Ulsan Hyundai forward Park Chu-young, who scored 25 goals during his three seasons with Monaco. Hwang tied that record with his first goal against Strasbourg, broke it with his second and extended it to 27 goals by the end of Sunday's game.
Hwang has played for Bordeaux since 2019 and has been a prolific goal scorer in the last few years. Last season, Hwang was Bordeaux's top goal scorer with 12 Ligue 1 goals. He has been on good form again this season, with nine goals so far, although the hat trick did snap a month-long dry spell since he last scored against Troyes on Dec. 12.
Hwang's return to form also couldn't have come at a better time for the Korean national team, with qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup set to resume this week. The Bordeaux striker is a regular on the national team and his role is likely to be even more important for the next two games — against Lebanon on Thursday and Syria on Feb. 1 — with both Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur and Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton Wanderers out with injuries.
The absence of Son leaves Hwang Ui-jo as one of the most experienced attackers on the national team, and he will likely lead a younger offensive line in the qualifiers.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]