Wolverhampton striker Hwang Hee-chan scored the winning goal against Bournemouth, and local media praised his performance.
Hwang’s Wolverhampton defeated Bournemouth 2-1 away in the ninth round of the 2023/24 Premier League at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England, on Sunday (Sept. 21). With the three points, Wolverhampton moved up two places to 12th in the league with three wins, two draws, and 11 points. Bournemouth, meanwhile, remains in 19th place with three draws and six losses.
In the match, Wolverhampton conceded an early goal to Bournemouth. In the 17th minute, Solanke pounced on a loose ball from Billing in the box to open the scoring with a smart heel shot. The unpredictable shot failed to find the back of the net.
After going into halftime down 1-0, Wolverhampton produced a second-half comeback, with Hwang Hee-chan at the center of it all. Two minutes into the second half, Mateusz Cunha equalized with a stunning right-footed shot from a Neto pass.
Hwang Hee-chan then drew a red card for his opponent. In the eighth minute of the second half, after being tripped by Lewis Cook in a ball competition, Hwang became enraged and struggled with Cook, who casually punched him in the face. As Hwang went down, the referee rushed over and immediately produced a red card and ordered a direct ejection.
With the numerical advantage, Wolverhampton pounded away at the Bournemouth goal and managed to pull a goal back. In the 43rd minute, Hwang picked up the ball near the penalty box and slipped a pass to Sasha Kalajic, who found himself in space as two defenders closed in on him, and Kalajic scored the winner with a one-touch right-footed shot.
Hwang Hee-chan’s performance was well-received by local media. Birmingham Live, a British media outlet, rated Wolverhampton players’ performances against Bournemouth on Feb. 22, and Hwang was one of the stars of the show. They gave Hwang a 7, the highest on the team, saying, “Hwang provided a moment of magic when he drew a reaction from Lewis Cook to set up Kalajic’s winner with Bournemouth down to 10 men.” They praised both his assist and his sending off.
Hwang’s assist was a theatrical goal that was built on a deliberate play. “We switched the positions of Hwang and Cunha,” O’Neill said. “We switched the positions of Hwang and Cunha so that Cunha could make the goal,” O’Neill said, adding, “Kalajic, who came on as a substitute, also made a good goal from Cunha’s position. This means that Cunha and Hwang switched positions in an instant, allowing Kalajic and Hwang to work together in the center.
O’Neill praised the combination of Hwang and Kalajic. “It was the first time in my coaching career that I’ve played against a team that was outnumbered,” O’Neill said. “I would have been disappointed if we hadn’t scored, but we kept knocking on the door and creating chances like we had something to show for it. Hwang’s pass was fantastic and Kalajic’s finish was fantastic.”
O’Neill has already praised Hwang on several occasions this season. Hwang came off the bench in the first two games of the season, but he started to pick up his game after coming off the bench at Brighton and scoring. He was injured against Everton in the third round of the league, but recovered quickly and scored against Crystal Palace in the fourth round.
After returning to the A-League in September, Hwang showed his goal-scoring touch by opening the scoring against Liverpool in the seventh minute of the first leg, and he was showered with praise after his goal against the Reds.
The Birmingham Mail reported after the Liverpool game that “O’Neill said Hwang has brought more than goals to the new regime at Wolverhampton. Hwang is also expected to start against Luton Town. Hwang has been plagued by injuries, but he has earned the trust of Wolverhampton’s previous managers. O’Neill, who was appointed ahead of the season, also said that Hwang has played an important role.”
According to reports, O’Neill said of Hwang, “The most important thing is his scoring, and the second thing is his understanding of the game and the structure and how we do things. He has a really good intelligence about what I ask him to do. It helps when you’re trying to implement new tactics,” he praised.
“It’s important to have someone who understands quickly and can put things together, and that’s what Hwang is. He is really calm and shows great instincts to get to the right areas to score.” Hwang was silent against Luton Town, but then scored in three consecutive games against Ipswich Town in the EFL Cup, Manchester City and Aston Villa, proving his worth as the team’s main man.
Hwang’s performance against Bournemouth was also praised by his teammates. In the post-match interview, Wolverhampton striker Cunha mentioned his teammate’s performance and said, “Netou is a good player. He is at a very good level this season. Not only Netou, but also (Hwang Hee) Chan,” he said, praising Netou for assisting on his own goal and also mentioning Hwang Hee Chan.
“Everyone in our team is very good, and I hope they can maintain this level and help us more,” he said, adding that he hopes to see more from them.
Head coach Gary O’Neill also indirectly addressed Hwang’s performance and her importance to the team. When asked about the transfer market after the game, O’Neill said, “We have talented players. But we don’t have a lot of depth, so we need to keep them healthy. It’s hard to pick a winger, but (Hwang Hee) Chan and Netu are the only two players on the team who can play on the wing,” said O’Neill, describing Hwang as one of the team’s unique wingers.
His offensive numbers suggest that his importance to the team is already huge. The Premier League revealed Hwang’s goal conversion rate on its official social media account on May 15, saying, “Hwang is the cleanest in front of goal among the scoring champions this season.” According to the data released by the Premier League, Hwang topped the list of players who scored five or more goals with a 41.7 percent shot-to-goal conversion rate.
Newcastle striker Alexander Isaacs (33.3%) and Tottenham captain Son Heung-min (26.1%) were second and third, respectively, while Premier League goal-scoring leader Elling Holland was fourth at 25%. For the record, Hwang has attempted a total of 12 shots in Premier League matches this season, finishing with five on target. Considering that no other player in the league has scored more than three goals, Hwang’s scoring percentage is huge.
Meanwhile, despite the win over Bournemouth, O’Neill has been in the news for saying 안전놀이터 that the victory was no different than the recent win over Man City.
According to local media reports, O’Neill said, “A team that is improving and working extremely hard can get a good win. To be honest, it’s no different to when we beat Man City and Everton. It’s the same feeling, and I have a lot of respect for everyone at Bournemouth. They even gave me the opportunity to coach in the Premier League. We’ve done well recently with six unbeaten games. I enjoyed our performance, nothing else,” he said, emphasizing that winning is the only thing that matters.