Sunderland’s Ji Dong-won goes around Manchester City’s Joe Hart to score the winning goal. (AFP-Yonhap News)
South Korean striker Ji Dong-won started 2012 brilliantly by scoring a stoppage-time winner for Sunderland in a 1-0 win over the English Premier League leader Manchester City on Sunday.
The 21-year-old found the back of the net in the 93rd minute with the last kick of the game, barely 10 seconds left in injury time, to excite more than 40,000 home fans.
The Korean striker, who came on as a substitute in the 78th minute, latched onto Stephane Sessegnon’s pass and rounded goalkeeper Joe Hart, before rolling the ball into the empty net. Although the video replay suggests that Ji might have been offsides, Ji’s goal earned three vital points, helping the team move up to 13th, six points above the relegation zone.
“It was offsides, marginally. But we ended up winning the game. We’re delighted with the three points. It was a fantastic effort,” said Sunderland manager Martin O’Neil.
Ji also left Manchester City crestfallen. City’s manager Roberto Mancini was seen stalking furiously off the bench after Ji’s goal. With the result, Manchester City missed a great opportunity to take advantage of league rival Manchester United’s 3-2 loss to Blackburn on Saturday. City remains ahead of United only on goal difference.
Ji credited Sunday’s victory to his teammates, saying: “The win was a big reward for our hard work in not letting Manchester City score.
“They are one of the best teams in the league and to score the winning goal in the final minute is special,” Ji was quoted as saying on the club’s official website.
On Sunday, Sunderland had only few chances in the game while the visitors enjoyed long spells of ball possession.
In the final 20 minutes, when Ji came on to the pitch, Sunderland looked to have settled for a draw, focusing on defending in its own penalty box. In the 88th minute, City almost scored when Micah Richards headed the ball against the crossbar.
Sunderland’s Ji Dong-won (left) celebrates his goal with Craig Gardner. (AP-Yonhap News)
It was, however, the visitors who have fallen victim to Sunderland as Ji scored the only goal of the game in the dying seconds to finish the game. It was his second goal of the season.
Ji is no doubt one of the most promising young Korean players. He currently plays for both U23 and national teams. The former Chunnam Dragons target-man was outstanding during the 2011 Asian Cup, netting four goals in the tournament.
He joined Sunderland in June 2011, on a three-year deal for around $3.2 million.
Ji scored his debut goal against Chelsea in September 2011. Since then, however, the young striker seemed to struggle in adjusting to the Premier League, making only 13 appearances, 12 as a substitute.
But Ji noted that he hopes Sunday’s game will be a turning point.
“I have scored my first goal of 2012, so hopefully things can go well in 2012,” Ji added.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org