(ATTN: ADDS comments throughout)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean superstar Son Heung-min netted two goals and his trusted partner Harry Kane also grabbed a brace, as Tottenham Hotspur defeated a team of South Korean league All-Stars 6-3 to kick off their preseason in Seoul on Wednesday.
Spurs and Team K League traded seven goals in the second half at Seoul World Cup Stadium on a rainy summer night, putting on a highly entertaining show that lived up to its considerable hype before a sellout crowd of 64,100.
"I think it was a good game and to play in front of 64,000 people is very exciting for the players," Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte said. "I am satisfied with the game because we enjoyed the atmosphere."
Conte also gave credit to Team K League, saying, "They created many difficulties."
"They scored three goals. They played good football," he said. "I saw a lot of good players in this team."
His K League counterpart, Kim Sang-sik, said the match was a valuable learning experience for young homegrown players.
"It was a special experience for myself and for these players," Kim said. "I am glad that no one got hurt, and everyone did their best."
Eric Dier for Tottenham and Cho Gue-sung for Team K League each had a goal in the somewhat subdued first half, before things opened up over the final 45 minutes.
Dier opened the scoring for Spurs near the half-hour mark, with a well-struck left-footed shot from just outside the penalty arc.
Team K League had some promising moments in the opening minutes without seriously threatening to score. Then only seconds from the end of the first half, Cho, positioned between two defenders, jumped to meet Aleksandar Palocevic's perfectly-placed cross and headed the ball past goalkeeper Brandon Austin to tie the score.
The two teams came out with guns blazing in the second half, trading three goals within the first 10 minutes with substitutes making their presence felt.
Barely a minute into the second half, Team K League defeder Kim Jin-hyuk put Kane's cross into his own net, gift-wrapping a 2-1 lead to Spurs.
Some six minutes later, Lars Veldwijk netted the equalizer for Team K League, with Yang Hyun-jun threading a pass after breaking free from multiple defenders.
But Kane put Spurs up by 3-2 only two minutes later, this time scoring on his own. He was left untouched as he cut toward the middle and fired a low shot with his left foot.
The moment that many came to see materialized in the 68th minute. Spurs were awarded a penalty after Jun Amano was called for handball in his own box, and Son stepped up to beat new goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang for a 4-2 Tottenham lead.
Amano then atoned for his miscue two minutes later by scoring a gorgeous curler of a free kick goal with his left foot and cutting the deficit to 4-3.
Kane then scored his second of the night with a free kick from inches outside the box, after defender Kim Dong-min was sent off for fouling Son from behind on a fast-break opportunity.
Son then put the icing on the cake for Spurs in the 85th minute, when he picked off a dreadful clearing attempt by Kim Ji-soo inside Team K League box and easily beating scrambling goalkeeper Kim Young-kwang for a 6-3 lead.
Looking for a hat trick, Son attempted a diving header during injury time that rolled wide of the target. Kane himself took a crack at a trifecta in the dying seconds, though his left-footed volley was turned aside by Kim Young-kwang.
Son started the match on the bench and entered the pitch right after Kim Jin-hyuk's own goal early in the second half, drawing a thunderous ovation from the crowd.
And that is exactly what Conte intended when he decided to keep Son off the starting XI.
"We started (the match) with players that started their preseason 10 days ago. Sonny only had 3 days of training sessions with us," Conte said. "We also decided to give Sonny (the chance) to come in alone and to receive claps of the people."
The K League 1 season will resume on Saturday. On the same evening, Tottenham will face the Spanish club Sevilla FC at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 35 kilometers south of Seoul.
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