Klinsmann’s key midfielder Hwang In-bum played 82 minutes in his UEFA Champions League debut on his birthday, showing that his skills are good enough to play at Europe’s top level. He did not disappoint against last season’s champions and one of the strongest teams in the world, Manchester City.
Hwang In-bum, who joined Serbian side Zvezda earlier this month, started as a defensive midfielder wearing the number 66 shirt against City in the UEFA Champions League Group G first leg of the 2023/24 season at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England on Tuesday and played 82 minutes until the 37th minute of the second leg. Hwang In-beom played all over the pitch on the day, from the attacking midfield to the last line of defense, proving to be a force to be reckoned with against the City players.
It was just unfortunate that the team had to come from behind to go home without a point.
Zvezda silenced City with a 45th-minute goal from second-choice striker Osman Bukhari, but conceded a late equalizer to Argentine striker Julian Alvarez and another to midfielder Rodrigo in a 1-3 loss. They missed a golden opportunity to take a point.
Pep Guardiola went with a 4-2-3-1 formation for the hosts. With Ederson in goal, the back four consisted of Sergio Gomes, Nathan Ake, Jubeng Dias, and Kyle Walker from left to right. Rodriguez and Mateusz Nunes would play the double volante. Phil Foden, Alvarez, and Bernardo Silva filled out the second line. Up front, Elling Holland was the top scorer in both the Premier League and Champions League last season.
Their opponents, Zvezda, had Omri Glazer in goal and Milan Rodric, Aleksandar Dragovic, Naser Ziga, and Srdan Mijailovic in the back four. Marko Stamenic and Hwang In-beom were in the middle, with Stefan Mitrovic, Mirko Ivanic, and Vukari in the second line and Cherif Ndiaye up front.
Hwang In-bum, who was born on September 20, 1996, will become the 13th South Korean to play in the UEFA Champions League if he starts against Man City.
Previously, Seol Ki-hyun, who played for Anderlecht in Belgium in 2001, became the first Korean to play in the Champions League, followed by Song Jong-guk, Park Ji-sung, Lee Young-pyo, Lee Chang-soo, Park Joo-ho, Park Joo-young, Son Heung-min, Hwang Hee-chan, Jeong Woo-young, Lee Kang-in, and Kim Min-jae until last year, when Hwang In-beom became the latest Korean to play in the Champions League.
Hwang made his Champions League debut against last season’s champions and “world number one” Man City, and despite his promise to “run like a dog,” Hwang’s play and workrate showed that he is a European-level midfielder.
On the day, City dominated Zvezda with a whopping 22 shots, seven on target, in the first half alone. However, the defense collapsed on a counterattack, and they went into halftime trailing 1-0.
Mantis had a chance in the fifth minute when Walker sent in a cross from the right side of the penalty area, but Hwang In-beom tripped in front of it and made a good foot save to deny the attacker.
Then, in the 14th minute, defensive midfielder Rodri beat one opponent in front of the arc before unleashing a right-footed strike that was tipped to the ground by an animalistic save from Glazer.
In the 24th minute, Rodri’s attack was broken up by a tackle from Hwang In-beom when he got the ball. A minute later, in the 25th minute, they were again denied their first goal when Foden’s cross was met by Holland’s header from the left side of the goal area, but it hit the crossbar.
On this day, Zvezda players were flying around and desperately resisting the City offense. Add to that the fact that Israeli international goalkeeper Glazer continued to put on a save show, much to the bewilderment of the home side’s world-class players and the 50,000-strong crowd.
Glazer showed he was in top form in the 29th minute when he reflexively punched away Ake’s header from the edge of the box. In the 30th minute, Zvezda’s best chance came when Hwang In-beom slipped in a cross from the right side of the penalty area, but Ederson cleared it off the line before it could reach the visitors’ man.
With City unable to penetrate their opponents’ thick defense, Guardiola made a bold substitution before halftime. He took off Silva in the 44th minute and brought on last summer’s new signing, Jeremy Dockoo.
But Zvezda remained resolute in shutting down the City attack, and the Etihad was silenced in the 45th minute when Zvezda scored a surprise goal. In a rare Zvezda attacking opportunity, Ivanic played a sharp through ball to a diving Vukari, who curled a right-footed shot into the back of the City net.
The referee’s flag was raised for offside at the moment of the goal, but the video assistant referee (VAR) overturned the call for onside, giving Zvezda the lead against City.
However, City regrouped and scored an equalizer two minutes into the second half to put the game out of reach.
From the second-half kickoff whistle, City stepped up their offense and Alvarez took advantage of a forward pass from Holland on the right side of the arc, beating Glazer in a flash and then taking his right foot off the ball before it crossed the goal line to make it 1-1. Hwang In-beom chased the ball all the way and tried to stop it, but it was too late. Guardiola raised his arms in celebration.
Zvezda didn’t back down after that, throwing himself into the City attack as if to secure a draw, but he inadvertently conceded a late winner. In the 15th minute, Alvarez curled in a free-kick from the right outside the penalty area, but Glazer, who had been making consistently good saves on the day, failed to punch it away and the ball went straight into the net.
Alvarez, who played a backup striker role behind Holland last season and has been filling in for world-class attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne this season after the latter’s long-term injury absence, made his presence felt with a multi-goal performance.
The game completely shifted in the home team’s favor when City’s 2-1 lead was overturned. Hwang In-beom’s right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 16th minute was Zvezda’s only notable attack after the midway point of the second half.
Eventually, the wedge goal of the match came in the 28th minute. Rodri exchanged passes with a teammate on the right side of the penalty area before unleashing a quick right-footed curler into the bottom corner of Zvezda’s goal. The Zvezda players could only stare in disbelief at the defensive midfielder’s shooting prowess.
With a two-goal deficit, both teams decided to conserve their energy and look for an equalizer rather than launch a bold attack. Hwang In-beom, who made a bold throwing tackle on Foden’s attack, continued to move around the field afterward. In the 37th minute of the second half, he was substituted for King’s Kwangwa to end his first Champions League match in impressive fashion.
According to European soccer statistics site Footmob, Hwang attempted 25 passes in total, completing 19 of them for a 76% success rate. His rating of 6.5 ranks him fifth among Zvezda players who have started, behind Vukari and Glazer (both 7.6), Ivanic (7.1), and Ndiaye (6.7). The highest rating for both teams combined was for Rodri, who scored a multi-goal game and earned a 9.5 rating. 스포츠토토
Zvezda will host Swiss side Young Boys in the second leg of their Group G tie on October 5 at 4pm at their home stadium, the Raiko Mitic Stadium. Although they came up short against Man City, their form hasn’t been too bad, so they should be able to pick up their first Champions League win of the season at home against Young Boys. Hwang In-beom was also in fine form in his first start since joining Zvezda, so he could be given a more attacking role against Young Boys.
In the other Group G match earlier in the day, German Bundesliga powerhouse RB Leipzig defeated Young Boys 3-1 away from home.
Leipzig took the lead through defender Mohamet Simakan in the third minute of the first half before conceding a 33rd-minute equalizer to striker Mehdi Elia, but Saber Schlager equalized in the 28th minute and Benjamin Cesco struck in stoppage time to secure the win. They are now tied for first place in Group G, with the same goal difference and points as Man City.
Based on today’s results, Group G will be dominated by City, who won a European treble last season, and Leipzig, who defeated Bayern Munich 3-0 in the German Super Cup last month, with Zvezda threatening as a dark horse.