Hwang Hee-chan plays 30 minutes as Wolves beat Leicester
Hwang Hee-chan's gradual return from injury continued Sunday, when he appeared for the final 30 minutes of Wolverhampton Wanderers' 2-1 win over Leicester City.
Hwang was substituted on in the 58th minute of the game at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England, heading on to the pitch with the score tied at 1-1. The Korean forward wasn't directly involved in the goal that came eight minutes later, but was actively on attack throughout the last 30 minutes of the game.
Wolves scored both of their goals on Sunday from outside the box — one each for Ruben Neves and Daniel Podence — marking the first time the club has ever scored two from outside in a Premier League game.
With the win, Wolves have immediately returned to the seventh-place spot in the Premier League after briefly slipping back on Saturday. Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur have been alternating the spot over the last few weeks, with Spurs briefly pulling ahead following a 3-2 win over Manchester City on Saturday. Korean striker Son Heung-min picked up two assists in that game.
Hwang's 32 minutes on the pitch on Sunday mark his longest appearance for Wolves since Dec. 15 last year. The Korean forward spent the best part of two months out with a hamstring injury, only returning to the bench on Feb. 10 and making his first appearance this year on Feb. 13 against Spurs. He played nine minutes in that game.
Hwang was sidelined after suffering an injury on Dec. 15 in the early stages of a Premier League clash with Brighton. He left the pitch in the 12th minute of the game after a collision with Brighton full-back Tariq Lamptey. Brighton were awarded a free kick, and Hwang attempted to continue playing but left the pitch moments later, grabbing his thigh.
It appeared from replays of the incident that Hwang's toe may have got stuck in the ground, causing a brief hyperextension, likely leading to a hamstring injury. It wasn't until two weeks later that Wolves gave an update on his status, announcing that Hwang had sustained a hamstring injury and would be out of action for the foreseeable future.
While out with an injury, Hwang not only missed five Wolves games, but also had to sit out two World Cup qualifiers with the Korean national team.
While Hwang's return from injury is progressing steadily, the forward has been brought down hard by fouls in both of his appearances so far this month. On Sunday, Leicester's Ricardo Pereira was shown a yellow card for a foul on Hwang which left the forward clasping his hamstring, although there was no indication that he had been injured.
Wolves will be back in action on Thursday when they take on Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in London.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]