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What Son Heung-min did on South Korea World Cup return as Rodrigo Bentancur excels for Uruguay


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The whole of South Korea breathed a huge sigh of relief one hour prior to their World Cup opener against Uruguay. As ever, Son Heung-min had dominated the headlines ahead of the tournament, but this time it was for all the wrong reasons after sustaining a fracture around his left eye 23 days earlier.

Ever since going down midway inside the first half of Tottenham’s Champions League win over Marseille after a nasty collision with Chancel Mbemba, his homeland has prayed for the 30-year-old to make a quick recovery as he once again carries the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. Named in Paulo Bento’s 26-man squad 11 days after sustaining the issue at the Orange Velodrome, Son has had to train with a protective mask on his face ever since linking up with the rest of his teammates in Qatar.

Leading his country out at the Education City Stadium with Tottenham teammate Rodrigo Bentancur lining up against him, Son’s swift return to action was complete. Struggling with a couple of corners early on, he also had an unwanted problem with his captain’s armband throughout the first half.

READ MORE:Tottenham ace Son Heung-min spotted wearing a mask as South Korea face Uruguay at World Cup

The elastic had seemingly gone in it and it resulted in the attacker either constantly pulling it up or walking around with it in his hand. In terms of the action, Son operated on the left of a three behind striker Hwang Ui-jo but he was rather quiet at times in the first half with South Korea keeping their shape and making life incredibly difficult for their opponents.

When they did push on and attack, Son showed a glimpse of his dazzling footwork on 25 minutes as he cut in from the left and breezed beyond Martin Caceres and Federico Valverde. However, his ball into the box was lacking and it was easily cut out by the Uruguayan defence.

Not long into the second half Son did get a sight of goal after some good play from his teammates on the edge of the box. Taking a touch to advance into the area, the experienced frontman was denied by a superb tackle from Jose Maria Gimenez just when it looked like he would be getting a shot off on goal seconds later.

There was even another moment when the Korean fans had to hold their breath again following an injury scare. Going to ground down the touchline after Caceres had come from behind and caught him on the ankle which resulted in him losing his boot, Son had to receive treatment before managing to carry on.

While chances may have been at a premium for him, he did his best to create openings for his teammates as one long ball over the top had just too much on it and a low cross from the left was unfortunately cut out. Presented with a chance on goal seconds after Valverde had rattled the post with a powerful drive on the cusp of stoppage, Son unfortunately couldn’t take it with his strike drifting wide of Sergio Rochet’s left post.

While Son may not have got much change out of the Uruguay backline, his Tottenham teammate Bentancur carried on his recent good form with another strong showing in the contest. Getting on the ball and dictating play as Uruguay looked to push on and cause big issues for Bento’s team, there was one piece of play in the second half which really made people sit up and take notice.

Receiving the ball on the right of his own penalty area after Uruguay had cleared a South Korea corner, the January signing looked to be in a bit of trouble with a couple of players around him but he pirouetted between the two of them before advancing. It was simply sublime from the classy operator and reminiscent of a similar piece of play outside his own box on his Spurs debut against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Drawing 0-0 in their World Cup opener, both teams return to action on Monday with South Korea taking on Ghana and Uruguay involved in a mouth-watering showdown against Portugal.


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