A hat-trick at the Allianz Arena? Usually it’s a part written exclusively for members of Bayern Munich’s all-star cast – but Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Dodi Lukebakio went off-script on Matchday 12.
The Watford understudy – at Düsseldorf on a season-long loan – gave a bravura performance on his stage debut in the Bavarian capital, scoring all three goals as Fortuna hit back from 3-1 down to rescue an unlikely point.
Lukebakio now has nine goals for the season: five in 10 Bundesliga appearances and four in two DFB Cup matches. That’s more than parent club Watford’s top two goalscorers, Robert Peyreyra and Andre Gray, combined.
In fact, the 21-year-old has already seen his name up in lights more often for Fortuna than he did in 45 cameo outings on previous tours with Anderlecht, Charleroi, Tolouse and Watford (six goals).
A first for Lukebakio, a first for Neuer
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Lukebakio said after becoming the first Bundesliga player since Ebbe Sand (Schalke) in 2001 to score a hat-trick against Bayern and the first in Bundesliga history to put three past the great Manuel Neuer in one game.
“We knew that we were playing against the best team in Germany. We knew it would be a really tough game, and it’d be difficult to get anything from it. But we came here believing we could get a result, and we didn’t give up. It was a fantastic performance.”
There’s no arguing with that assessment. And while the collective deserves immense credit for becoming the sixth Bundesliga team this term to take points off Bayern, it would be churlish of the critics not to save the five-star review for Düsseldorf’s loan ranger.
Take a bow, Lukebakio
Lukebakio’s opening scene provided a sneak preview of things to come – a quick shuffle and shot that had Neuer at full-stretch to bat the ball around his right-hand post. Bayern’s No.1 would have no such luck in the closing sequence of Act I, however.
With Bayern leading 2-0 through quick-fire efforts from Niklas Süle and Thomas Müller, Lukebakio stole the spotlight with a thunderous close-range finish that gave the guests a timely boost going into the interval. Bayern restored their two-goal cushion with over half-an-hour remaining, only to be hit with an untimely bout of stage fright.
Lukebakio took full advantage. Blazing clear of Jerome Boateng and Süle not once, but twice – in the 77th and 93rd minute respectively – Fortuna’s leading light brought the curtain down on the Allianz in a rip-roaring finale. Suffice to say the only calls for an encore came from the minority visiting crowd.
“Lukebakio the best I’ve faced in the Bundesliga”
Fortuna coach Friedhelm Funkel was a touch more restrained after the event, not that he hasn’t sounded a few notes on Lukebakio’s trumpet before.
“Dodi can become a very good player,” he said after snapping up the one-time DR Congo international, now a Belgium U21, in summer 2018. “He’s so unpredictable with his pace and dribbling, that’s why we let him have free rein.”
Wolfsburg’s Jerome Roussillon went one further after treading the same boards as the Bayern slayer earlier in the campaign. “His pace and dribbling – it’s something else,” gushed the Frenchman. “I’ve never experienced anything like it in the Bundesliga. He’s the toughest opponent I’ve had to face since I moved here.”