In their first of two tune-up friendlies before this summer's UEFA U21 European Championship, Antonio di Salvo's Germany U21 squad drew their Japanese counterparts 2-2 in Frankfurt on Friday.
|Antonio Di Salvo.||Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Trainer di Salvo gave newly recalled Hertha forward Jessic Ngankam the start as the lead striker. The 22-year-old was flanked by Eintracht Frankfurt attackers Ansgar Knauff and Faride Alidou. Schalke's Tom Krauß and Köln's Dennis Huseinbasic worked behind the trident with designated captain Yannick Keitel holding the 4-1-4-1 together as a pincer-sweeper. Kilian Fischer (VfL Wolfsburg), Yann-Aurel Bisseck (AGF Aarhus), Jordan Beyer (Burnley FC), and Noah Katterbach (Hamburger SV) served on the back-line ahead of Freiburg keeper Noah Atubolu.
The DFB juniors remained calm early, even in the face of a venomous Japanese press. Within ten minutes, di Salvo's crew were able to find their way forward. Japanese keeper Zion Suzuki had to make a spectacular double save on Ngankam and Alidou in the 9th. The Germans mostly maintained possession for the duration of the first half, though there were a pair of good chances for Japan on the counter. Atubolu had to steer a powerful distance effort over the crossbar in the 28th.
Just when it appeared that the game was balancing out, the German hosts were awarded a penalty in the 39th. Ngankam was taken down clumsily in the box by Fortuna Dusseldörf defender Takashi Uchino. Ngankam converted from the spot himself to give the DFB side a 1-0 lead. Within a couple of minutes, however, Japan had equalized. Kein Sato headed home a corner for the 1-1 in the 43rd. Captain Keitel looked a bit spotty on the coverage. The two teams entered the tunnel with what seemed a fair scoreline.
Di Salvo opted to introduce emergency call-up Simon Asta for Fischer at the break. The SpVgg Greuther Fürth professional regrettably debuted in the worst5 possible fashion. A failed back-pass from Asta to Atubolu was intercepted by Sato. Japanese lead-striker Mao Hosaya was easily serviced for the 2-1 with barely 15 seconds played after the restart. Asta fortunately managed to atone for his mistake almost right away, extending an Ngankam ball over to a wide open Huseinbasic in the 49th. The score was level again.
Samurai net-minder Suzuki again had to be on hand to stop a double chance in the 54th, first fending off a dangerous close-range tight-angle shot from Ngankam, then rising higher than everyone else to fist away the subsequent corner. Kozuki did well to recover in time to stop another Huseinbasic effort in the 64th. The FC Köln did take a bit too long on the ball.
Matters flattened out a bit in Frankfurt as the substitutes began to pour on. Jamie Leweling (1. FC Union Berlin), Maurice Malone (Wolfsberger AC), Eric Martel (1. FC Köln), Angelo Stiller (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), and Noah Weißhaupt (SC Freiburg) were also introduced by di Salvo late to no avail. Patrick Osterhage (VfL Bochum) and Luca Netz (Borussia Mönchengladbach) came on for the final minutes.
Nothing more of note occurred.