Hwang Hee-chan played just 45 minutes as the team earned a draw.
Wolverhampton Wanderers drew 1-1 with Luton Town in the sixth round of the 2023-24 Premier League (PL) at Kenilworth Road in Luton, Bedfordshire, England, at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The result leaves Wolverhampton with a record of one win, one draw and four losses (four points) and in 16th place.
Wolverhampton hasn’t gotten off to a great start. They were competitive in their league opener against Manchester United at Old Trafford, but conceded a 31st-minute goal to Raphael Varane in a 0-1 loss.
The poor form continued after that. Brighton, who took the EPL by storm last season, were in solid form this time around, and Wolverhampton were forced to accept a humiliating 1-4 scoreline at home in the second round. Fortunately, back-to-back wins in the cup against Everton and Blackpool lifted their spirits, but they failed to capitalize on the momentum with a disappointing 2-3 loss in the third round against Crystal Palace.
The previous game, against Liverpool, also lacked a backbone. Wolverhampton neutralized the Liverpool attack with a solid defensive line and aggressive pressing. They took an early lead in the seventh minute through Hwang Hee-chan and maintained it throughout the first half.
However, they fell apart in the second half. Jürgen Klopp took off Alexis Sanchez, who had struggled throughout the first half, and brought on Luis Dias to boost the attack, and it paid off immediately. In the 10th minute of the second half, Cody Gakpo, freed up by his move from striker to central midfield, equalized, before Andrew Robertson pulled one back in the 40th minute. A late own goal from Hugo Bueno in stoppage time left Wolverhampton with a disappointing 1-3 defeat at home.
Wolverhampton have not been in the best of moods lately. However, with Luton as their opponent, they can still hope for a win. Newly promoted to the EPL this season, Luton have been fighting hard to ‘stay up’, but the objective power differential is becoming apparent.
They’ve lost all four of their league games. They were the perfect victims of Roberto De Cherbi’s tactics in the league opener against Brighton, suffering a 1-4 thrashing, and fell prey to Chelsea in the second round. Fortunately, a 3-2 cup win over Gillingham seemed to turn things around, but they followed that up with a 1-2 loss at West Ham United.
Desperate for a win. Even in the previous game against Fulham, Luton couldn’t find a breakthrough. Given that it was an away game, they went into the game with a back five and a certain amount of resignation as they only had 22.4% of the possession, but it didn’t pay off. The first half ended 0-0, but the introduction of Alex Iwobi and Carlos Vinicius in the second half revitalized Fulham’s attack, with Vinicius scoring the winner three minutes into the game to condemn Luton to a fourth consecutive league defeat.
Prior to the game, all eyes were on Hwang Hee-chan. Hwang has been the undisputed ‘fixer’ for Wolverhampton this season. With three goals in five league games, he’s the team’s top scorer. After coming on as a substitute in the opening game against Manchester United, he made his presence felt in the second leg against Brighton, coming off the bench and scoring.
He started the third leg against Everton. However, he suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury in the first half and was substituted, much to the dismay of the fans. At the time, manager Gary O’Neill said, “Hwang felt a problem with his hamstring in the first half. With Mateusz Nunes unavailable, we had no options on the left flank (without Hwang). I thought Ait Noorie could fill that role, he’s got really good attacking ability and he’s done well in that role,” said O’Neill, explaining the reason for Hwang’s substitution.
Fortunately, the injury was not serious. Hwang Hee-chan continued his solid form against Crystal Palace, scoring after coming on as a substitute. He was in fine form during the September A matches and was at the peak of his powers when he started against Liverpool and scored the opening goal with a brilliant move.
He was named as a starter for this game as well. Despite coming off the bench, O’Neill had faith in his goal-scoring acumen, telling the press conference ahead of the game: “He’s got a great goal-scoring ability, a great understanding of the game and the tactical structure, and a great understanding of our style of play. He has the football intelligence to do what we ask him to do straight away. That helps us when we try new things,” praised Hwang.
“It’s very important to be able to understand things quickly and put them together with other things. He is that kind of player. He’s also calm, and he’s good at getting into position to score.”
Wolverhampton brought a 4-2-3-1 formation. Cunha, Hwang, Belgarde, Neto, Gomes, Lemina, Ait-Nouri, Kilman, Dawson, Semedoue, and José Sa started. Against them, Luton utilized a 3-4-3 formation. Ogbonna, Morris, Brown, Doughty, Nakamba, Samby Lokonga, Kabore, Bell, Lockyer, Burke, and Kaminski filled out the starting lineup.
The first half was dominated by the ‘home’ side Luton. In the third minute, Samby Lokonga attempted an audacious mid-range shot from outside the box after a pass from Morris, and in the fifth minute, Brown attempted a header from inside the box after a pass from Doughty, but both were blocked by the defense.
Luton continued to pressure Wolverhampton. In the 12th minute, Brown tried his luck with a left-footed shot from inside the box after a pass from Doughty, but the effort was blocked. In the 17th minute, Brown found the back of the net with a header from a Doughty cross, but it was saved by Jose Sa.
Luton were starting to pick up the pace. In the 19th minute, a foul on Netou earned them a free kick, and Doughty stepped up to take the kick, crossing for Brown to head home from inside the box, but his effort was well over the bar. Bad news for Wolverhampton, who were desperate to keep Luton at bay, came in the 39th minute when Vellegrard tackled an opponent in a contested challenge and subsequently kicked him in the butt as their legs became entangled. The tackle was actually okay, but the subsequent behavior was problematic. Luton players protested Bellegarde’s behavior, and the referee immediately produced a red card. A video assistant referee (VAR) review followed, but the sentence was upheld.
Wolverhampton outnumbered. It was not until the end of the first half that they threatened. In first-half stoppage time, Samby Lokonga fired an audacious mid-range effort from outside the box after being set up by Bell, but the keeper saved it. The first half ended 0-0.
It was a disappointing result for Luton. According to soccer stats site Fourscore, Luton pressured Wolverhampton with a whopping nine shots in the first half. They also held 55.6% of the possession and had the edge in other metrics. Wolverhampton, on the other hand, had a humiliating 0 shots on target in the first half, even with the sending off. 스포츠토토
Luton had the first shots of the second half. In the first minute of the second half, Burke attempted a right-footed shot from inside the box off a pass from Ogbonna, and in the third minute of the second half, Morris attempted a header from just outside the box off a pass from Ogbonna, but neither shot was on target.
It was Wolverhampton who took the lead first. Five minutes into the second half, Gomes cut the ball back down low and sent a pass to a diving Neto in space, who caught it, stripped his man and rattled the net with a powerful left-footed shot from the edge of the box.
Having lifted their spirits with the goal, Wolverhampton pushed for more. In the 12th minute, Neto’s cross was met by Lemina in the box, but his header was blocked by the goalkeeper. Kilman followed up with a left-footed effort from the edge of the box, but he was unable to beat the keeper.
Wolverhampton’s lead didn’t last long. In the 18th minute of the second half, Caboret’s shot from the right side of the box struck Gomes in the arm and a penalty was awarded after VAR. Morris stepped up to take the spot kick, fooling Sa and converting the penalty to equalize.
The score was tied at 1-1. The game became even more intense. Luton used their numerical advantage to press Wolverhampton, while Wolverhampton focused on defense and looked for opportunities on the counter-attack. Luton had their chance in the final minute of the half. In the 41st minute, Mpanjoo picked up the ball just outside the box and attempted an audacious mid-range shot that went wide of the target.
It was Luton who dominated the attack until the final whistle. In the third minute of stoppage time, Woodrow’s shot from outside the box went wide of the target, and in the seventh minute of stoppage time, Woodrow’s right-footed shot from inside the box after a pass from Mpanjoo was blocked by the defense. The game ended 1-1.
As in the first half, the second half was also dominated by Luton in terms of detailed metrics. According to soccer stats outlet Couchscore, Luton dominated possession with 57% of the 90 minutes and were constantly in search of a goal with a whopping 20 shots on target. Wolverhampton were outnumbered and forced to defend and only managed three shots on target. Luton had a whopping 2.08 expected goals per game, while Wolverhampton had just 0.58.
Hwang Hee-chan only played the first 45 minutes. Despite switching between the left and right flanks and attacking with vigor, Hwang was unable to record a shot on target, as Wolverhampton had no shots in the first half. In terms of the ‘couch score’, they had 27 ball touches and a 93% passing success rate. Ground battles were won at a high rate of four out of five, and he was active in forward pressure with one clear and two tackles. His rating of 6.6 was the second highest of the attacking quartet after Neto. Bellegarde, who was sent off, had the lowest rating of 5.5, while Cunha, who was also a frontline striker, received a 6.5.
The soccer stats outlet Potmob gave Hwang a 6.7 rating. Compared to the players who started the game and the players who came on later than Hwang, the rating was not that low. Neto, who scored the first goal, and Kilman, who made crucial defensive saves to save the day, were the only two players with ratings above 7. Lemina, Gomes, and Semedo were all in the 6s.