Penalty misses Youssoufa Moukoko and Jessic Ngankam were encouraged by their team-mates, while coach Antonio Di Salvo looked disappointed in his dugout. The hopes of Germany’s U21 footballers for the next title coup suffered a dampener after two missed penalties right at the start of the European Championship. Captain Yann Aurel Bisseck’s goal (26th minute) on Thursday in front of 2442 spectators in Georgia’s rain was only enough for a 1: 1 (1: 1) against Israel – also because Moukoko (3rd) and Ngankam (80th) had two Penalties awarded.

Dor Turgeman (20th) had given Israel the lead. Defending champions Germany failed to win the all-important first game despite a questionable yellow-red card against Israel’s Eden Karzev (45.2). “We had enough chances to score, especially with the two missed penalties. Now, of course, the frustration runs deep. That was a missed chance to win,” said Di Salvo on TV station Sat.1, adding: “We controlled the game and had more chances to score. The precision was missing.”

For the German team, which had to put up with numerous absentees from regular players before the tournament, the match against the Czech Republic continues on Sunday. The Czechs are also under pressure after the 2-0 defeat by England, the last German opponent on Wednesday. “We have to be angry today, tomorrow we will continue. We have to win against the Czech Republic, so we’ll do everything we can,” emphasized Di Salvo, who issued the ticket for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris as a minimum goal, for which the three best teams in the European Championship qualify alongside Olympic host France.

About an hour before the start of the game, heavy rain had set in in Kutaisi, which only stopped in the second half. “You have to adapt to the circumstances,” said Di Salvo. “It definitely had an influence.” But the ball initially went well through his own ranks. With a dominant start, the team underpinned its claim to the title, which Moukoko had confidently formulated, after the last three finals in a row.

However, the 18-year-old didn’t have his best day against Israel. After a weak penalty after a foul on Kevin Schade in the early stages, the Dortmund player missed further great chances (15’/54′). To make matters worse, Moukoko also prevented a goal from Josha Vagnoman (37th) by being offside.

And that paid off. With the fast switching game and the long balls from the Israelis into the top, the German team had increasing problems. The opponent could not use a bad pass from goalkeeper Noah Atubolu (13th). Seven minutes later, a lost duel by Yannik Keitel in midfield was enough – super talent Oscar Gloukh from Red Bull Salzburg sent Turgeman and Bisseck got out. Di Salvo, who braved the weather on the sidelines in a rain jacket, followed the setback without much emotion. For the 44-year-old it is the first tournament as boss after years as assistant coach under Stefan Kuntz.

Di Salvo’s team fought back into the game, getting better and better at gripping Israel’s speedy attackers. A standard situation helped offensively: Bisseck headed a free kick from Angelo Stiller almost unchallenged into the goal. And the defending champion pushed for the second goal, especially at half-time two in the majority.

However, the team struggled to find gaps against the deeply defending Israelis. Di Salvo brought further offensive power to Jessic Ngankam (72′). The Hertha BSC striker grabbed the ball after a foul on Tom Krauss – but failed like Moukoko before from the penalty spot. Schade put the margin next to the goal.