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Double strike and assist

Reserve ace Kopplin stars at U-20 World Cup

Bayern reserve Björn Kopplin played the starring role as Germany advanced to the last eight at the FIFA U-20 World Cup for the fourth time in their history. The defensive all-rounder scored two goals and laid on the third as the German juniors beat Nigeria 3-2 in the Egyptian town of Suez on Wednesday night to set up a quarter-final meeting with Brazil.

“I actually can’t remember the last time I scored two goals in a game. It might have been in the U-15s when I was still with Union Berlin,“ Kopplin confessed to German FA official website

Seventy-yard dash

“A huge compliment to the lads. They’ve achieved something I never thought would be possible after 25 players were withdrawn from the squad before the tournament,” commented Germany coach Horst Hrubesch. Danny Ochechi (51) and Rabiu Ibrahim (68) twice put the Africans in front, but Hrubesch’s team shrugged off a dubious red card shown to Tobias Kempe (64) and fought back to equalise on both occasions through Kopplin (52) and Mario Vrancic (75, from a Kopplin assist).

Two minutes into stoppage time, Kopplin won the match with an exceptional individual effort. Starting in his own half, the 20-year-old charged fully 70 yards towards the opposing goal, before slotting home the winner past onrushing Nigeria keeper Okafor in the manner of a natural-born striker.

Brazil up next

“I backed a hunch, because there were two of us running at one defender. I chose the direct route to goal. Sven Bender gave me fantastic support by running past me. That put the defender off balance and he lost me. I pushed the ball a little bit wide, but I managed to slot it into the far corner. It feels unbelievable,“ Kopplin related.

In Saturday’s quarter-final, the Germans now meet four-time U-20 world champions Brazil, who eased past Uruguay 3-1 in the Round of 16. “Like all the South American teams, they have exceptional individuals, and they’ve done well at the tournament so far. But there’s no reason we shouldn’t beat Brazil,“ Kopplin declared. The match in Cairo kicks off at 4.30 pm CET (live on Eurosport).