Playing without squad captain Jonathan Burkardt on short notice, Antonio di Salvo's DFB Juniors were still able to pull out a hard-fought 1-0 qualifying victory in Isreali on Saturday evening.
Köln teammate's Jan Thielmann and Noah Katterbach combined on the team's lone goal.
|Noah Katterbach.||Photo: Marco Verch, CC BY-SA 2.0|
A victory against Israel at the HaMoshava in Peta Tika on Tuesday evening ensured that the German U21s opened up a five-point-lead atop their 2023 UEFA U21 European Championship Qualifying group. The team representing the country's highest youth-level looked nowhere near as convincing as they did against Latvia on Friday, but were still able to get the job done.
U21 trainer Antonio di Salvo had to make do without squad captain Jonathan Burkardt on short notice. The Mainz striker experienced some pain in his hamstring during pre-match warmups. Köln's Jan Thielmann, who had been pulled in favor of Malik Tillman, replaced the skipper. Di Salvo made one other change to the side that defeated Latvia 4-0 on Friday. V fL Bochum center-halve Armel Bella-Kotchap was able to rejoin the team after fighting off COVID infection. The high-valued central defender returned to the starting XI immediately, replacing Greuther Fürth's Maximilian Bauer.
In a somewhat uncomfortable looking 4-1-4-1 spread, di Salvo's team looked a little disjointed in the opening going. Hoffenheim's Angelo Stiller, wearing the captain's armband in place of Burkardt, regulated midfield traffic well enough. By the time that the team got the ball out on the wings, however, the Israelis had targets in the box well covered. The first real chance in the game came in the 27th minute. Fullback Joshua Vagnoman punched through on a run up to the touchline before pulling back for Jamie Leweling. The Fürth striker only just missed.
The first half was mostly characterized by tough physical duels in the center of the park. The DFB XI found it difficult to establish much of rhythm against the Israeli's, who certainly fought hard in every last 50-50. Match official Jeremie Pignard saw fit to dole out three bookings during the opening 45. Two Israeli players saw cautions, as did Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knuaff. Neither team proved capable of taking any real advantage of free-kicks awarded to them in promising positions.
An Israeli tactical shift at the restart enabled the hosts to get a little more out of the game in the opening minutes of the second 45. Along Hazan's men generated three scoring chances in the opening ten minutes, though SC Freiburg net-minder Noah Atubolu didn't have to directly intervene on any of them. Poor Israeli finishing ensured that the ball didn't reach the German keeper's gloves. The DFB XI were still struggling. It thus came a surprise when the the Germans were able to take a 1-0 lead at the hour mark.
The goal was a Kölner co-production. Thielmann did an excellent job breaking through on the left and shaking off two markers before entering the box. Kölner Teammate Noah Katterbach followed his colleague, moving into a perfect position to be set up to finish off Thielmann's delicate ball for him. After a phase marred by fouls, substitutions, and injury timeouts, a mistake by Katterbach nearly allowed the hosts to equalize in the 71st. Again, the Germans were fortunate that Israeli finishing wasn't up to scratch.
More substitutions from both trainers impeded flow down the stretch. The hosts were still trying to press on for the equalizer, but di Salvo's youngsters kept their defending calm and organized. Some clever defending from Vagnoman, Bella-Kotchap, and Marton Dardai suppressed a handful of Israeli charges before they could become truly dangerous. Through four minutes of injury time, the German guests were mostly able to keep their hosts pinned down in their own half.
|6||M. Kna'an ↪81|
|2||K. Jaber ↪71|
|14||I. Elmkies ↪46|
|17||I. Shahar ↪70|
|7||O. Davida ↩46|
|22||I. Bogani ↩81|
|13||I. Ben Shabat|
|15||M. Levi ↩70|
|19||Z. Zasno ↩71|
|3||N. Katterbach ⚽ ↪83|
|10||M. Tillman ↪68|
|14||A. Knauff ↪76|
|18||J. Leweling ↪77|
|11||F. Alidou ↩76|
|20||E. Shuranov ↩77|
|4||K. Fischer ↩83|
|16||E. Martel ↩68|