Substitute Youssoufa Moukoko made it to the final score in Borussia Dortmund’s 2-0 win against Hertha BSC. For the first time this year, the 16-year-old came into play when BVB was not behind.
Youssoufa Moukoko has hardly gone through such a phase in his footballing life: once without the big hype. In the past few weeks, media coverage has flattened out for him after it was a constant companion for him due to the incredible goal rate in the youth field and the record debut in the Bundesliga on the day after his 16th birthday.
Most recently, Moukoko was just part of Borussia Dortmund’s professional team. The striker was regularly on the bench but only came into play occasionally. Since the turn of the year, he had been granted 114 minutes of play, spread over six missions.
When he was substituted on, however, it was anything but easy for him – mainly because of the starting position. In the first five of these six missions, Moukoko came into play when BVB was behind and stumbled: against Mainz, Leverkusen, Gladbach, Freiburg and Hoffenheim.
Although the Cameroon-born player scored his second Bundesliga goal at SCF and reduced it to 1: 2, it is rather unfortunate that a 16-year-old should actively help to give the ailing Dortmunders fresh impetus. Especially with a view to the squad planning in the storm.
Moukoko hardly used against Schalke and Bielefeld
Even when Erling Haaland was injured in several games in December, Moukoko had to attack from the start. His goal at Union Berlin made him the youngest Bundesliga shooter in history, but the statements of BVB managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke im kicker a month later it was not surprising: “I saw how much Youssoufa felt under pressure. In the first few games I didn’t get the impression that he is the one you know from the youngsters,” said Watzke and described Moukoko’s first steps with the professionals as “difficult”.
What was surprising, however, was that Moukoko was only used for seven minutes in the games following Hoffenheim against the relegation-threatened Schalke and Bielefeld teams, who were each decided in favor of Borussia from the 60th minute on. And in the next game at FC Bayern, interim coach Edin Terzic decided half an hour before the end to take the more physical approach and bring U23 striker Steffen Tigges to 2-2.
“In the last game we needed someone to hold the ball a little bit tight for us because there weren’t many spaces in possession,” Terzic explained his measure in Munich, which should ultimately not work, on Saturday evening after the deserved 2-0. Victory against Hertha BSC. Moukoko got his season minutes 115 to 120 there, in the six turns of the hand he contributed the final point to 2-0.
His substitution in the 84th minute was now “the right time” compared to the Bayern game, said Terzic. Moukoko inserted himself directly into the game: “He’s extremely dangerous. We needed someone who is there immediately against Hertha and that’s why we are extremely happy that we brought him.”
Moukoko’s brief appearance against the Berliners once again made it clear that the 16-year-old is completely ready for the higher level at which he has been able to play since November. Moukoko dares something, looks for one-on-one, dodges on the wings or in the half field and always acts purposefully towards the goal. Two minutes before his third goal of the season – the second as a joker – he prepared Giovanni Reyna’s shot from the post, which actually had to be in.
Completely uncertain, of course, how Rose plans for the attack from summer in Dortmund, in Salzburg he at least had a system with two tips played on a regular basis. It would be interesting to see how the more spacious Moukoko would do alongside Haaland at the beginning of a game.
Both were already involved in the 2-0 win against Hertha when a blocked attempt by Haaland landed at Moukoko and Niklas Stark got rid of him in the penalty area with a sharp turn to shoot in from an acute angle. There is only one downer left for Moukoko: That he could not score his goal at the end in a fully occupied Dortmund stadium.