| German pro soccer club Leverkusen may be congratulating itself that its decision some two weeks ago was right. Although the Korea Football Association requested Son, 22, to play in the Korean team for the Incheon Asian Games, Leverkusen refused, saying that he was indispensable. As if to repay their trust, the Korean striker scored a goal for the team at a decisive moment on Thursday.
At the second playoff game against FC Copenhagen at home in Germany, Son scored the first goal some 69 seconds following the beginning whistle and spearheaded the team뭩 four-nil victory. Leverkusen, which won three-two in the first playoff, will make the UEFA Champions League group stage again following last season.
Last season, Son did not perform on par with his name value in the Champions League. He played in eight matches and recorded just two assists. It was disappointing for Son, who joined Leverkusen last season aspiring to play in the much-heralded Champions League. Yet he scored the come-from-behind winning goal in this season뭩 first playoff and in the second playoff, scored a lightening first goal to completely snap Copenhagen뭩 willingness to fight back. It is not exaggerating to say that Son was instrumental behind Leverkusen making the Champions League group stage.
Leverkusen Manager Roger Schmidt said his team easily won owing to the early goal and gave Son credit for the victory. The foreign media also showered accolades. The German daily Bild said Son뭩 magic drove Leverkusen to stand on the stage of dreams. The soccer magazine Kicker also reported that Son뭩 goal 69 seconds into the match outpaced the speed of a fire engine to a fire.
Meanwhile, England뭩 Arsenal reached the Champions League group stage by beating Besiktas one-nil for a combined first and second round results.