Youssoufa Moukoko spread his arms and let his teammates celebrate. The goal guarantor secured the German U21 national team's next victory in the European Championship qualification with a hat-trick.
After the 3:2 (1:1) in Sofia against Bulgaria, coach Antonio Di Salvo's selection took the lead in their qualifying group with six points from two games. Three-packer Moukoko (40th/49th/69th minute) decided the game for the German U21 footballers.
"The boys are always looking for me in the penalty area, I get the balls I need. The striker has to score the goals, I did that today," said Moukoko at ProSieben Maxx. "In the end, it's also about trust. The coach trusts me and I give that back." The 18-year-old from Borussia Dortmund increased his impressive goal rate in the U21 to eleven goals in nine games. Bulgaria had previously taken the lead through Stanislaw Shopow (25'), Nikola Iliev (90') scored to make it 2-3.
The U21s continue in November with home games against Estonia and Poland. The game in Israel scheduled for next Tuesday was postponed after the attack by the Islamist Hamas. It is still unclear when it will be rescheduled. Only the first group winner is guaranteed to qualify for the tournament next year in Slovakia.
Plenty of offensive power in the German starting eleven
Di Salvo relied on plenty of offensive power against the deep-lying Bulgarians. The coach called on Dortmund national players Moukoko and Karim Adeyemi, Frankfurt's Ansgar Knauff and the in-form Maximilian Beier from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim from the start. "He's in top condition," said Di Salvo on ProSieben Maxx about striker Beier, whom he appointed captain for the game. “This is leadership through performance.”
However, the hosts usually defended the German attacks confidently. At first it was hard for the DFB youngsters to get through. Bulgaria, which started qualifying strongly with four points from two games, defended in a disciplined manner - and relied on the counterattack. The first notable one led to success in the middle of the first half. Germany defended sloppily, Shopow scored a remarkable shot into the corner of the net to take the celebrated lead.
Moukoko benefits from the Bulgarian goalkeeper's mistake
Adeyemi and Moukoko - who had already scored twice in the 3-0 win in Kosovo at the start of the European Championship qualification - found it difficult to get into the game. In the few good individual actions, the DFB selection was either too harmless in the end or wasted the ball. What helped was once again the individual class of Moukoko, who prevailed and scored.
For his second goal, the striker benefited from a mistake by Bulgarian goalkeeper Plamen Andreev, whose shot from Moukoko rolled through his legs. The lead shortly after the break gave the German team security, even if the defense occasionally wobbled and even allowed the score to be 2-3 in stoppage time. But Moukoko had previously scored a third goal and thus secured the victory.