Fans were stunned when Son Heung-min came on from the bench to score a 14-minute hat-trick in Tottenham’s 6-2 win over Leicester on Saturday night.
The South Korean striker got off to a sluggish start to his campaign after failing to score ahead of Saturday’s clash with Leicester and being benched by Antonio Conte as a result.
After taking the lead through Rodrigo Bentancur just after the break, Conte decided to use his spirited South Korean striker in the last half hour of the game.
While Tottenham were comfortable, Son secured all three points with a wonderful 73rd minute performance. It was his first goal for Lilywhite since his hat-trick on the final day of last season at Norwich.
Conte revealed ahead of the game that Son was “angry” at his current form and urged the Italian to try Dejan Kulusevski, Harry Kane and Richarlison, who are getting stronger by the week. Son showed both that anger and his frustration at not starting the game by not celebrating his spectacular right foot shot, instead putting his finger to his lips.
Normally a cheerful character with a grin on his face, Son exuded the air of a player disappointed in his current plight and not given a chance by his manager to put things right from the start.
On his return to the Premier League goalscoring chart, Son was not satisfied with one, only minutes later he had a second.
He picked up the ball on the right and rolled past the unfortunate Danny Ward with a wonderful left footed shot. Once again the finger was raised to his mouth as he looked at the gloating Tottenham fans.
It was hard not to feel the raised finger in a shushing motion not aimed at the “noise” that was surrounding him this season.
With many believing things couldn’t get much better for the striker, he capped his magnificent performance with a hat-trick. He ran through to the goal and slipped the ball under Ward to send Tottenham Hotspur Stadium mad.
His cheering, once again muted, was stopped by the assistant’s flag but a VAR check showed he was indeed level. Cue second set of wild celebrations.
Son’s return to form will be very welcome at Tottenham as Conte’s side looked a bit worried in front of goal in their midweek defeat by Sporting Lisbon.
After being joint top scorer in the Premier League last season, Son was expected to hit the ground running this season, but it hadn’t clicked yet. Richarlison, so impressive since completing his move from Everton this summer, had seen his shares rise as a combination of both his own work and Son’s poor form.
Social media were in shock as Son carried out his amazing 14-minute rampage to erase any threat of a late Leicester resurgence, with many supporters focused on Son’s – absent – celebration.
“Son with a celebration that says ‘He dropped me for a couple bad games bro show you,'” remarked one supporter after his first goal.
Another wrote: “Finally seeing Son’s goal celebration.”
While another also decided to focus on his celebration, he wrote: “Cold celebration from son.”
“Great goal celebration from Son Heung-min,” wrote another.
Another added: “Son’s celebration said it all.”
Another jokingly remarked on Son’s first two goals, both of which came from outside the 18-yard box: “Yeah see that was the problem, Son shot from the box before. Not good.’
Meanwhile, Son admitted after the game that he was “disappointed” with his current level of performance, while he felt the team were doing “really, really well”.
He told Sky Sports: “It was a top performance and I was very frustrated too. The way I play I can do a lot better than I ever was. I was disappointed, the team did really, really well but I was disappointed with my performance.
“It was a tough game going 3-2 and you never know in the Premier League. I wanted to do my best for the team. I will always try that when I play. I tried to help the team on the bench. I’m glad we won the game before the international break,” he added.
“My degree was bad this season. I was also a bit unlucky with an own goal, two offside goals and a crossbar. I knew goals were coming and I wasn’t worried. I’ve always had great supporters, teammates and coaches behind me.