Ghent’s Hong Hyun-seok scores crucial equalizer in Europa Conference League
Hong Hyun-seok came off the bench to score a crucial equalizer for K.A.A. Gent on Thursday, leading the Belgian side to a 1-1 draw with Irish club Shamrock Rovers to keep Gent alive in the Europa Conference League.
Hong, who manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck said after the game had been sick and vomiting earlier that morning, entered the game in the 61st minute with Gent, known as Ghent, already down 1-0 from a Rory Gaffney goal in the 3rd minute.
The 23-year-old Korean midfielder didn’t waste, striking 13 minutes later to take the score to 1-1.
The draw leaves Ghent in third place in Europa Conference League Group F, but only two points behind second-place Molde. If Gent beat the Norwegian side next week, they will move up to second and advance to the round of 16.
Hong joined Ghent in August from Austrian side LASK in a deal reportedly worth 1.5 million euros ($1.5 million). The 23-year-old quickly made a name for himself in Belgium, scoring a stunning bicycle in his very first appearance on Aug. 12.
Hong went on to pick up his first assist two games later, on Sept. 1, scoring in the next game on Sept. 4 and picking up another assist on Sept. 11. He scored a brace on Oct. 9, hammering in two goals within a 15-minute spell against Eupen, then added another assist on Oct. 16.
Hong, who was called up to the U-23 Korean national team for the first time this year, appeared in all three LASK games this season before leaving in August, picking up one assist and helping the club rise to the top of the Austrian Bundesliga with two wins and one draw.
Hong joined LASK in July last year and appeared in 23 games with the Austrian club, picking up five assists. He also played in eight Europa Conference League games, where he added two more assists and picked up a goal against Armenian side FC Alashkert in the group stage.
Hong is a rising star that has picked up three caps for the Korean U-23 team and played his youth career with Ulsan Hyundai in the K League. Before joining LASK he played for Austrian side Juniors OÖ and German club Unterhaching.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]