JOE BERNSTEIN: Canny Channy! Hwang Hee-chan feels very much at home in the West Midlands and is proud to be setting records for Wolves
- Gary O’Neil’s Wolves came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Newcastle
- Hwang Hee-chan, who got Wolves’ equaliser, feels at home in the West Midlands
- The 27-year-old is proud to set records at his club, and wants to score more
It is a long way from Chuncheon in South Korea to Wolverhampton but Hwang Hee-chan feels very much at home in the West Midlands.
Five times Wolves have played in the Premier League at Molineux this season and five times the popular forward has scored. His latest on Saturday was a terrific equaliser against Newcastle after he had earlier conceded a harshly awarded penalty.
The 27-year-old’s return of six goals in Wolves’ first 10 games is the best for the club in the top flight since legendary striker Derek Dougan 50 years ago. After injuries, he is showing why he cost £14million from Leipzig at the start of last year.
Channy, as he is universally known around the club, seems genuinely proud to add a chapter to their history.
‘To have this record is a great honour as a Wolves player. I want to keep going and score as many as possible,’ he said.
Hwang Hee-chan, who scored Wolves’ equaliser, feels very much at home in the West Midlands
The South Korean ensured Gary O’Neil’s side secured a point against Newcastle United
‘My goals come from teamwork. We train very hard to understand each other. It wasn’t a penalty but my team-mates kept their trust and I really wanted to do something for them.’
Like countryman Son Heung-min at Tottenham, Hwang is a respected and influential figure at Molineux. They will need his work ethic if star man Pedro Neto is kept out by a hamstring injury that saw him carried off.
‘He’s amazing and difficult to cover but we have many good players,’ said Hwang. ‘If you see us train, you’d understand our combinations are so good. It’s not just me, (Matheus) Cunha and Neto, but Sasa (Kalajdzic) and Pablo (Sarabia) as well.’
Wolves have defied pre-season predictions of relegation and are unbeaten in five.
Twice Newcastle led through Callum Wilson and twice Wolves rallied in pouring rain. First through Mario Lemina and then Hwang’s 71st-minute leveller, when he took Toti’s pass, cut inside Dan Burn and wrongfooted goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Wilson’s second had been a spot kick just before half-time. The penalty decision was described by Wolves manager Gary O’Neil as ‘scandalous’ after Fabian Schar went down when Hwang appeared to kick the ground rather than the centre back.
Newcastle are going through a testing period, with a crowded fixture list compounded by injuries and a 10-month ban for Sandro Tonali over betting breaches.
With Manchester United, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund to play in the next nine days, Eddie Howe faces a selection puzzle for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie at Old Trafford.
Callum Wilson, who scored both Newcastle’s goals, has talked down suggestion of fatigue
Nevertheless Wilson — whose co-striker Alexander Isak is out with a groin problem — talked down any suggestion of fatigue.
‘As professionals, as soon as the game is finished you recover and go again. That’s what we’re doing,’ he said. ‘You have to credit our sports science guys. They get us into a place where we’re physically able to go and go.
‘Unfortunately we have a few out injured, so players are having to play more minutes than they’d like. Ideally for myself, we’d have Alex (Isak) around to share the load. But you relish the opportunity to play in competitions like the Champions League. We have a big enough squad to cope with the demands.’
Isak may miss another month and Howe is also without Sven Botman, Harvey Barnes, Jacob Murphy, Elliot Anderson, Lewis Miley and Tonali.
Wolves (3-4-3): Sa 5.5; Dawson 6, Kilman 7, Toti 7; Semedo 6, Lemina 7 (Gomes 86min), Traore 5.5 (Doyle 54, 6), Ait-Nouri 7; Neto 7.5 (Kalajdzic 77), Hwang 8, Cunha 6.
Scorers: Lemina 36, Hwang 71.
Manager: Gary O’Neil 7.
Newcastle (4-3-3): Pope 7; Trippier 5.5, Schar 6, Lascelles 6, Burn 5.5; Longstaff 7, Guimaraes 6.5, Joelinton 6.5; Almiron 6 (Willock 72), Wilson 7, Gordon 6.5.
Scorer: Wilson 22, 45 (pen).
Booked: Burn, Lascelles, Trippier, Longstaff.
Manager: Eddie Howe 6.5.
Referee: Anthony Taylor 5.5.
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