Last weekend Bayer Leverkusen were trailing 1-0 at Hamburg with 18 minutes to go. Just like against Borussia Mönchengladbach, their manager, Roger Schmidt, turned to the bench for some inspiration.
In that fixture, Joel Pohjanpalo was introduced with just over ten minutes to go and equalised within 60 seconds. Within seven minutes of coming on as a substitute against Hamburg, Pohjanpalo pulled one back for the home-side before grabbing a two further goals in injury time to complete a 15-minute hattrick.
The Finnish international now has a 100% strikerate after scoring four goals from four shots on target.
What is even more remarkable is that he is currently the Bundesliga’s top scorer despite only playing 30 minutes of football.
When Bayer signed him from HJK Helsinki in the Summer of 2013, the then 18-year-old had already debuted for Finland and was being scouted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs. However, over the past three seasons he has fallen off the radar due to being loaned out to VfR Aalen and then to Fortuna Düsseldorf both of the 2. Bundesliga.
During his two seasons at Fortuna Düsseldorf, it looked like his career had flat-lined but it looks like the 22-year-old has put that forgettable loan spell behind him. The striker is now part of Bayer’s first team squad and he made his debut on 27 August some three years after signing for them.
His impressive displays as a substitute look to have resurrected his career and it has given Schmidt a selection headache as the Finland international is behind Javier Hernández, Kevin Volland and Stefan Kießling in the pecking order.
However, now is the perfect opportunity for him to grab his chance as Stefan Kießling is still struggling with a hip injury sustained in February, whilst both Hernández and Volland have missed time as well. With four goals in 30 minutes, he is certainly grabbing the opportunity and could turn out to be the Bundesliga’s breakout player this season.