South Korean starlet Hwang Hee-chan showed he is in fine form as the young striker grabbed a brace at a second-tier European cup competition ahead of his national team duty next week.
Hwang scored both goals in FC Red Bull Salzburg's 2-0 victory against OGC Nice at the UEFA Europa League Group I clash at the Allianz Riviera in Nice, France, on Thursday (local time). It was the first time that the 20-year-old netted goals at a European club tournament.
Hwang, who joined Salzburg last year, came on to the pitch in the 62nd minute, replacing Fredrik Gulbrandsen. He stunned current French league leaders Nice just 10 minutes later with quick two goals.
Hwang broke the scoreless deadlock with a diving header off Munas Dabbur's cross in the 72nd minute. A minute later, he controlled a pass from Josip Radosevic on his chest in the box and found the net with a left-footed strike.
Thanks to Hwang, Salzburg held on to collect their first victory in Group I, where they also have to compete against FC Schalke 04 and FC Krasnodar.
Hwang has now scored five goals in the last four matches, including three goals in the Austrian Bundesliga.
South Korea will expect to see Hwang's recent club form in their upcoming matches. Hwang is one of the players on the 25-man squad picked by head coach Uli Stielike.
South Korea will take on Canada at Cheonan Stadium in Cheonan, some 90 kilometers south of Seoul, in a friendly match next Friday. The Taeguk Warriors will then face Uzbekistan at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 15 for their final Asian qualifying round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Stielike's side are in need of a rebound after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Iran last month. Hwang didn't play in the World Cup qualifier in Tehran.
Stielike said on Monday that he expects Hwang, along with another forward, Lee Jeong-hyeop, to show aggressive movement on the pitch, in addition to scoring goals. The German coach added Hwang and Lee will be tested against Canada, and they will be given equal time to display their skills on the pitch.
Hwang made his international debut just two months ago. He played against China and Syria -- South Korea's first two World Cup qualifying matches in the final round -- but has yet to register a goal.
Hwang previously represented South Korea at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where the men's football team suffered a quarterfinals exit. (Yonhap)