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‘Not pleasant’ comments fired up South Korea’s Son for China clash

South Korea’s two-goal skipper Son Heung-min said “not pleasant” comments from opponents China had fired him up to do the business in their World Cup qualifying clash.

The Tottenham Hotspur forward scored twice and set up the third as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side won 3-0 on Tuesday to silence a sell-out home crowd of more than 40,000 in Shenzhen.

South Korea have a perfect six points from their opening two qualifying matches for the 2026 World Cup in North America and have scored eight goals, conceding none.

“Honestly, when I heard they (China team and media) were saying they know how to stop me and they don’t care about me, it was not pleasant,” Son told South Korean broadcasters afterwards.

“When I play football I respect all players,” the 31-year-old added.

“So about those comments about me — as the captain of the team, I think to show what I can do on the pitch was the right way (to respond).” 

Son took his international tally to 38 goals in 114 appearances thanks to an 11th-minute penalty and a deft header from a corner just before half time.

After slotting in his penalty, Son pointedly celebrated by putting a finger to his lips.

In a game dominated by the visitors, South Korea wrapped the points up three minutes from the end of normal time when Son’s free-kick was headed in by defender Jung Seung-hyun.

World Cup qualifying in the region now takes a pause for the Asian Cup in January-February in Qatar, where South Korea will be among the favourites.

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