Leverkusen - ’s match-winning wonder goal ensured that Bayer 04 Leverkusen kicked off Matchday 20 where they left off last weekend, with a hard-fought win over fellow European hopefuls Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The South Korean footballer of the year scored the only goal of the game to move die Werkself ten points clear of their Rhineland rivals, whilst remaining FC Bayern München’s closest competitors at the top of the table. Speaking after the final whistle, the 21-year-old discussed his stunning strike and the implications of Leverkusen’s victory.
Question: Heung Min Son, Leverkusen beat Gladbach 1-0 and you scored the winning goal. What did you make of the victory over a team competing directly with your for the UEFA Champions League qualification spots?
Heung Min Son: The win was really important for us. If we'd lost against Gladbach then it would’ve cut into our current advantage. Instead we’ve managed to stay out in front of the chasing pack. We put in a good performance and everyone demonstrated great will power in their desire to win the match.
Question: Can you explain your goal celebration?
Son: I was a bit surprised to score, which is why I didn’t really celebrate the goal.
Question: You had a similar attempt at goal in Freiburg. On that occasion you couldn’t find the back of the net though…
Son: That’s right. That time I took the shot with my left foot though. I spend a lot of time after training sessions trying to perfect those types of shots. I’m always aiming to put the ball right in the corner. Normally, it doesn’t come off that often, but it worked really well tonight. Therefore it’s a special day for me.
Question: Were you at all surprised at how much space you had to pull the trigger?
Son:Sidney Sam made an exceptional run through the middle, which dragged the defenders out of position, freeing me up to take the shot. It was a fantastic bit of movement that opened up the play perfectly for me. That was exactly what I was hoping would happen. Fortunately for us it worked and it ensured we picked up all three points.
Question: What are your feelings about how the table is shaping up?
Son: There’s still a lot of football to play this season. We can’t be thinking too much about the standings, instead we’ve got to demonstrate just what we’re capable of on the pitch and try and put in our best performances week-in, week-out. If we manage to do that then it will all come together and we won’t have to worry about the table. Hopefully that will continue.
Question: Leverkusen have won pivotal matches in Dortmund, Berlin and now Mönchengladbach. How frustrating is it then to lose against the likes of Braunschweig or Freiburg?
Son: Those defeats were incredibly frustrating, but then every loss is annoying. That’s just the way football is though. Afterwards you have to keep your head held high and keep moving forward. We can't dwell on the past, we have to concentrate on what is to come.
Question: How important was grabbing an eighth goal of the current campaign for your self-confidence?
Son: The last time I scored was in Dortmund. The goal tonight was particularly important for me as it helped me build-up my confidence. I’m hoping that I can maintain this type of form and that I hopefully won’t have to wait as long for my next goal.
Question: Do you still have any connections to Hamburger SV and your former team-mates, who are currently in the thick of the relegation battle?
Son: Yes, of course. It’s very upsetting right now when I look at the table or watch one of their games. Hamburg are a club that deserve to be and should be in mid-table at the very least. I’ve got all my fingers crossed for HSV and hope they can avoid relegation.
Question: Last weekend Eren Derdiyok scored the match-winning goal against Stuttgart. Are you feeling a greater sense of pressure from your competitors in the battle for a spot in the starting line-up? Or does that inspire you?
Son: What do you mean pressure? I’m delighted that he scored last week. He’s my team-mate. It’s not about pressure, it’s all about the success of the team. We won because of his goal. I hope he continues to give it his all and keeps scoring.
Question: Looking ahead to Wednesday’s DFB Cup clash. Are Leverkusen the overwhelming favourites against 1. FC Kaiserslautern?
Son: Naturally we want to win every game we play. It’s important for us. For now we’ll enjoy the success we’ve had in Gladbach, after that we’ll get ready for a difficult week, including the midweek encounter. We’re already well prepared though.
Tobias Gonscherowski reporting from Borussia Park