Even a hug with Son Heungmin

Korean midfielder Lee Kang-in (23, Paris Saint-Germain) displayed stellar performance in the fourth Group C match of the 2026 FIFA North-Central America World Cup qualifying round. He also hugged Son Heung-min (32), the captain of Tottenham Hotspur FC, after helping him score a goal last month.

Lee Kang-in started in the fourth Group C match against Thailand in the second Asian qualifying round for the World Cup held at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on the 26th, and played for 74 minutes to post one assist. The Korean team defeated Thailand 3-0 to remain atop in Group C (10 points). In fact, the team successfully advanced to the final qualifying round.

Lee Kang-in came under heavy criticism last month after it was revealed that he had clashed with Son Heung-min ahead of the semifinal match of the 2023 Asian Cup. When the incident became known, Lee Kang-in visited Son Heung-min as far as England and bowed his head. Son Heung-min also accepted the apology and seemed to end the case.

When Lee Kang-in’s name was listed on the A team’s list announced by interim coach Hwang Sun-hong on the 11th, some fans gave a negative look. In response, Hwang chose to break through head-on, saying, “What happened in the stadium has to be solved inside.” Ahead of the third game against Thailand, Lee Kang-in said, “It is a period of reflection. I think everyone’s bitter words will be of great help in the future,” adding, “I will try hard to become not only a better soccer player, but also a good person and a more helpful and exemplary person for the team.”

Lee Kang-in, who had lowered his head before the game, raised his head on the field. After playing as a substitute in the third game and only playing for 30 minutes, he started and led the attack in the fourth game. In addition to excellent dribbles, sharp through passes remained. Korea was ahead with Lee Jae-sung’s (Mainz) first goal, and Cho Kyu-sung (Mitt Whelan), who received a through pass from Lee Kang-in, beat the goalkeeper and scored.

In the ninth minute of the second half, Lee Kang-in overcame opposition pressure and passed the ball to Son Heung-min. Son scored an additional goal through a left footed shot. The two players, who jointly scored a goal four months after the second match against China in November last year, hugged each other. Korea even scored a wedge goal by Park Jin-seop (Jeonbuk Hyundai) to beat Thailand in the enemy territory.

Son welcomed Lee Kang-in’s revival more than anyone else. In an interview with a broadcaster after the match, Son said, “I think if there are demands from each other, there will definitely be fights. (Lee) Kang-in deserves a lot of love. I am 100% sure that he will grow into a greater player and a greater person through this incident. It’s been a while since I embraced him. He is so cute, and I hope he continues to do well.” Soccer fans can once again expect a joint goal between the two players. 먹튀검증

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