Schalke 04’s season has been a nightmare so far, with the once-proud Bundesliga team currently in the heat of a relegation battle which could see them drop down to Germany’s second division for the first time in 30 years.
However, on Saturday, it was American teenager Matthew Hoppe who lifted their spirits and hopes, delivering his team its first win of the season with a hat trick.
Schalke hosted Hoffenheim on Saturday with the team in last place and seven points from potential safety, immersed in the second-longest winless streak in the history of the league.
Hoppe’s hat-trick, his first three goals in his fifth career start, led them to an easy victory that allowed fans’ hopes to begin to spark after a nightmare start to the year.
The California native’s first goal was a chipped shot over the keeper that put his team in front 1-0 just before the half.
Hoppe broke past the defense in the 57th minute to score again for his second goal, and then completed the hat trick just six minutes later with another chip to put the game out of reach at 3-0.
The 19-year-old player is the third American to ever complete a hat trick in Europe’s top five leagues after Christian Pulisic accomplished the feat with Chelsea last season and Clint Dempsey did so with Fulham in 2012.
Hoppe and Schalke will look to keep up the good momentum as they travel to Eintracht Frankfurt next weekend.