In this AFP photo, Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates his goal against Watford during the clubs' Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday. (AFP-Yonhap)
With his second goal in three Premier League matches in the young season, Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur has quieted any lingering injury concerns.
Son's first-half free kick stood as the winner for Tottenham in their 1-0 victory over Watford at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday (local time). Son also became the first Asian player in Premier League history to reach the 200th match milestone.
Tottenham now sit atop the Premier League tables with three straight wins, all of them by the scores of 1-0.
Son scored in the Spurs' season-opening victory over the defending champions Manchester City on Aug. 15. But after the team's second match against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Aug. 22, Son was seen walking gingerly off the field. He had played 72 minutes with his left hamstring area taped, and his head coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, didn't sound entirely convincing when he said Son would be OK.
The first signs that the South Korean star was in good health came during the second leg of the playoff round for the UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday. In Tottenham's 3-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira, Son came off the bench in the 72nd minute for Harry Kane and looked none the worse for wear.
Then in the 42nd minute against Watford on Sunday, Son scored on a free kick from a few meters outside the left edge of the box.
It didn't give Son an ideal angle or distance to score, and his attempt might have been intended as a pass. Instead, the ball bounced just in front of Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann on its unlikely path into the net.
Bachmann looked caught between charging the ball or staying in his position. After hesitating for a split second, Bachmann made a futile dive as the ball skipped past him.
Son smiled and admitted it "wasn't one of the best goals" he has scored, but he will gladly take the goal and the win.
"As a free kick taker, you want to deliver the best ball to the guys going to the box," Son said. "Obviously, I tried to hit the target if nobody touched it, which is what happened. I don't know why nobody touched it. I will take this goal. The goal is for the team."
Son was lifted in the 88th minute for Bryan Gil, as Tottenham held on to become the first Premier League club to win three matches this season.
On yet another 1-0 win by Tottenham, Son said his club played better than the final score indicated.
"A 1-0 win sounds like, 'Hmm, we didn't dominate the game.' But we did dominate this game, and we competed for the three points," said Son, whose team outshot Watford 15-9, including an 8-2 edge in shots on target. "I've played for seven seasons now, and the Premier League is never easy. I am proud of these guys."
With 200 Premier League matches to his credit at age 29 -- "Makes me so proud, but many more to come," Son said -- Son is now among the veterans for Tottenham. He said he is embracing the leadership role, and he has been getting help from others too.
"I try to help young lads. I try to enjoy that position right now," he said. "It's not all me. Everyone wants to be a leader in the changing room and off the pitch. That's a good sign. Let's keep doing this." (Yonhap)