Hat trick-hero Taggart slays Seoul and makes history

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History-making Adam Taggart was the toast of South Korean football on Saturday after a magnificent hat-trick not only gave Suwon Bluewings a first league win over bitter rivals FC Seoul for over five years but also eased his team’s relegation worries.

Taggart’s three-goal haul is the first-ever by a Suwon player against Seoul and it rekindled memories of 2019 when the Socceroo striker ended the season as the K-League’s top goalscorer.

Suwon had said earlier in the week that they would turn to Taggart to lead them away from the drop zone and in his first start for five games and his first start under new coach Park Kun-ha, the 27-year-old did not disappoint. 

“It was a great performance from Taggart and it was the result we needed,” Suwon coach Park Keon-ha, appointed earlier this month, said.

“The goals were all very well-taken and it was a fine display of goalscoring. It was a game that we knew we had to win and all the players did a good job.”

Compliments were especially focused on Taggart’s opener after 13 minutes, “ a fantasy goal” according to national news. 

With his back to goal just inside the area, Taggart flicked the ball up and swivelled to volley into the top corner.

Two more in the second half, one a fine header and a first-time low shot in injury-time gave Taggart his second hat-trick in the K-League.

The victory, in the first game since the 12-team league split into two groups of six, put Suwon six points clear of Incheon United in the relegation drop zone though Incheon can reduce the gap to three on Sunday. Suwon have just four games remaining this season.

“I am happy that we have shown that we have been improving under the new coach,” said Taggart. “I am happy to score goals but I was able to do so because of the fantastic play of my team-mates.”

Taggart, now with eight league goals this season, said that this hat-trick was more meaningful than his previous three-goal haul against Gangwon in 2019. 

“It is better as this came against Seoul and fans have let the players know how important this game is.”

Taggart, who is expected to leave Suwon at the end of the season with a number of Middle-Eastern clubs interested, hopes that the win marks a turning point in what has been a disappointing campaign for the four-time Korean champions.

“It has been a tough season for everyone and it is frustrating to look at our league position especially as Suwon is a big club. I feel that we are getting better little by little under the new coach. We have to keep working hard and keep going until the end.”