Son Heung-min has found the fun in soccer.
Tottenham Hotspur defeated Manchester United 2-0 in the second round of the 2023-24 English Premier League (EPL) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England, at 1:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday. It was Tottenham’s first win in the league.
Biggest matchup of the second round. The match was expected to be a United victory. Spurs had lost their “ace” Harry Kane and were still adjusting to life under manager Enze Postecoglou. They were also not in the best of moods, having played to a 2-2 draw in the opening leg. United, on the other hand, recorded a win. Of course, it was a hard-fought victory against the Wolverhampton Wanderers’ offense, but the fact that they got three points is a positive sign for the team.
Tottenham brought a 4-2-3-1 formation. They started with Michy Batshuayi, Robert Lewandowski, Son Heung-min, Maddison, Sarr, Bissouma, Foro, van der Vaart, Romero, and Udoh, with Vicario in goal. Against them, United utilized a 4-2-3-1 formation. Rashford, Anthony, Bruno, Garnacho, Casemiro, Mount, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Lissandro, and Shaw filled out the starting lineup, with Onana pulling on the goalkeeping gloves.
Tottenham’s ‘new captain’ for the 2023-24 season, Son Heung-min, wore the captain’s armband once again, and after a somewhat disappointing opening game, he came into the game with a sense of urgency.
Tottenham had the first chance. In the first minute, Kuluczewski broke through on the right before sending a cross to Son on the other side, who immediately attempted a volley, but the impact wasn’t quite right and the ball floated over. United hit back immediately. In the third minute of the first half, Anthony found the back of the net after winning the ball in a high position, but his shot was well over the bar.
United failed to capitalize on a crucial chance. In the 13th minute, Anthony drew the attention of the defense with a dribble before slipping a pass to the onrushing Rashford, who unleashed a delicate shot towards the far post that was saved by Vicario.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the middle of the first half. In the 24th minute, Shaw collected the ball after an overlap and played it to Bruno at the edge of the box, who had a direct shot on goal but was denied by the defense. Tottenham should have doubled their lead in the 25th minute when Son Heung-min beat Varane and played the ball the other way to Kuluczewski, but his shot was headed straight at Onana.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Tottenham were left wanting. In the 40th minute, Son Heung-min’s pass was met by Foro with a direct shot that struck the top right corner of the goal. On the ensuing possession, Sarr’s cross was deflected by Shaw and headed into the United goal, but the ball hit the post and was not converted. The first half ended 0-0.
Spurs took the lead early in the second half. In the fourth minute of the second half, Kuluczewski drove the ball deep into the box off a pass from Foro and played a cutback pass. It hit Lisandro, deflected off of him and into the path of the onrushing Sarr, who rattled the United net with a left-footed shot.
Having conceded the lead, United immediately looked for an equalizer. Six minutes into the second half, Bruno’s through ball found Anthony, who cut in front of the defense, but his left-footed shot hit the post. After surviving the crisis, Tottenham immediately attacked with a quick counterattack, and Udoji’s shot was blocked by Onana.
Midway through the second half, Son Heung-min led the attack. In the 16th minute of the second half, Udoji, Bissouma and Son Heung-min linked up on the flank and Son Heung-min had a chance in the box, but his shot was saved by Shaw’s right foot for a corner. Tottenham continued to push forward. In the 19th minute of the second half, Bissouma calmly beat his opponent after receiving a pass from Son Heung-min, but his shot went wide of the near post.
In the closing minutes of a fiercely contested second half, Tottenham sealed the win. In the 38th minute, Son Heung-min dropped back to play a ball forward to Maddison, who played a pass straight to Perisic. Perisic then sent a crunching pass into the box that hit the foot of Lissandro, who was trying to clear it, deflected, and went into the United goal.
Defeat was in the air. United looked to close the gap down the stretch. In the 45th minute, Bruno floated a ball into the box for Casemiro who broke into the box, but his header was headed straight at Vicario. Nine minutes of extra time were awarded. Tottenham didn’t let up in the dying minutes. In the third minute of stoppage time, Maddison had a chance to add to his tally in the box but was denied by the defense, and the game ended with a 2-0 victory for Spurs.
Win or lose, it was an exciting game. According to soccer stats outlet Couchscore, the two teams combined for 39 shots on goal. Spurs had a slight edge in possession (56%), but United had more shots (22) and the same number of shots on target (6). The result was a 2-0 win for Spurs, but the expected goal differential was higher for United (1.99).
Son Heung-min was also at his best. In this game, Son was not back-passing, but rather drawing the defense with the ball or driving the ball inside himself to create opportunities for his teammates who were running into or around the box. He was also waiting for his teammates on the flanks to penetrate and then slipping a pass to Destiny Udoji or Pape Sarr at the right time to get into the opponent’s backfield. It was almost as if Kane had taken over the role of ‘playmaker’.
Such link-up play has led to high local praise. Football stats outlet Pocombe gave Son an 8.1 rating, the second-highest on the team, behind only Sarr, who scored the opening goal. On the day, Son created four chances (one big one), won three dribbles (five attempts), made one tackle, cleared two, intercepted one, recovered five, and won six ground battles (nine attempts). 스포츠토토
Son Heung-min at his best. Despite the loss of his “best friend” Kane, the South Korean seems to have found a newfound joy in soccer under Postecoglou. According to English outlet Football London, Son told Sky Sports after the game, “As you can see from the last two games, we want to keep the ball, we want to create chances, we want to play attacking football. If we lose the ball, we immediately put pressure on them. It’s really, really entertaining. I think Tottenham fans should see more entertaining football.”
“The players are enjoying it 100%. The same goes for the forwards. I don’t know about the defenders, but for me it’s easier to press from a high position than to run 70 meters behind.”
He continued to express his happiness: “All managers are different. I always respect them. If they give me a role, I will fulfill it. Right now I’m very happy. As a striker, when you are pressing from a high position, the distance to the ‘goal’ can only be reduced.”