After the injury lows, Szoboszlai hits a happy high

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Dominik Szoboszlai declared himself "happy" after banishing seven "low" months during which he missed the Euros, with a sparkling first Bundesliga start for RB Leipzig.

"You can't have a much better debut at home in front of our fans," said the Hungarian midfielder, who scored two stunning goals as Leipzig swept aside Stuttgart 4-0 on Friday in front of 23,100 spectators.

It was the first time Leipzig had that many fans in the stadium since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Germany in March 2020.

Sidelined from domestic action by a persistent injury from late December 2020 until last month, Szoboszlai also missed out on playing for Hungary at the Euro 2020 finals.

"I have experienced a lot in the last seven months while I was injured - it wasn't easy," he said.

"It was the low point of my career, although I am still only 20.

"I am very happy that I managed to score two goals and help the team."

Leipzig paid sister club Red Bull Salzburg 20 million euros (23 million dollars) for the versatile midfielder, but his January transfer is only now bearing fruit.

He marked his competitive debut by scoring during a 12-minute German Cup cameo off the bench in early August and was a replacement at Mainz last weekend, then dazzled on Friday.

There was nothing on when Szoboszlai picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and fired his stunning shot inside the far post.

"I thought about putting a cross in, but no one was there, so I went for the shot and, ok, it went in," he said.

After Emil Forsberg doubled Leipzig's lead just after the restart, Szoboszlai produced another stunning strike.

He launched a low free-kick from 30 metres which eluded defenders and his team-mates to beat the Stuttgart goalkeeper.

"I'm the sort to give it a go and see if it goes in, but today was perfect," he said.

After a shock 1-0 loss at Mainz last Sunday, Leipzig head coach Jesse Marsch had demanded an improvement, which his team delivered.

"We reacted well, we have a new coach and a few new players, we have to keep working, but this was for the fans and Jesse," added Szoboszlai.

Marsch, who moved to Leipzig this season after steering Salzburg to consecutive Austrian league and cup titles, praised Szoboszlai's performance.

"It wasn't easy, mentally or emotionally" for the 20-year-old Hungarian, admitted Marsch, "but he has worked a lot in the last few weeks".

The American says Szoboszlai has a "lot of potential. I know him well, the key for him is that he works hard every day and gives a lot for the group".

Leipzig will discover their Champions League opponents when the group stages are drawn on Thursday and have tough Bundesliga fixtures coming up.

They are away to Wolfsburg a week on Sunday, then host defending champions Bayern Munich on September 11 after the international break.

ryj/pb