Leipzig defeat Cologne, move back into 3rd in Bundesliga

Cologne, Germany, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- Leipzig recorded their second straight road victory since the resumption of the Bundesliga season, winning a 4-2 goal fest here Monday over Cologne to leap back into third place in the standings.

The Red Bulls (58 points), however, still just have a two-point lead over a pair of other teams – Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen – that also are in the race for one of four 2020-2021 Champions League berths out of the German league.

The match at RheinEnergieSTADION, played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, started inauspiciously for Julian Nagelsmann’s men.

They missed an opportunity to score in the opening minutes on a shot inside the area by Timo Werner that Cologne goalie Timo Horn managed to save. But shortly afterward Colombian striker Jhon Cordoba opened the scoring for the hosts in the seventh minute by slotting home a ball that had ricocheted off the woodwork.

A key turning point in the game, however, occurred 10 minutes later.

First, Cordoba sustained an injury and needed to be replaced; then, while French substitute Anthony Modeste was warming up, Leipzig notched the equalizer when Patrik Schick scored on a header in transition off a cross from Spanish left back Angeliño.

The visitors were clearly the superior side, and that was finally reflected on the scoreboard when they notched a second goal in the 38th minute.

On the play, Konrad Laimer took control of the ball at midfield, avoided one defender and then delivered a pass to Christopher Nkunku, who chipped a shot over an on-rushing Horn to make the score 2-1.

Leipzig then continued to pile on in the second half, with Werner and Spanish midfielder Dani Olmo getting in on the act.

Werner scored for the 25th time this Bundesliga season in the 50th minute on a goal assisted by Leipzig’s goalkeeper, Peter Gulacsi, who found the striker on a long-range clearance after making a save on a free kick.

Cologne cut the visitors’ advantage to 3-2 on a phenomenal goal from nearly 20 meters out by Modeste in the 55th minute, but Olmo gave Leipzig a two-goal cushion once again when he scored from the edge of the area off a corner kick just three minutes later.

Jorge Mere was unable to make a difference as a late-game substitute for the hosts, who are winless since the resumption of Bundesliga play on May 16 and are currently 11th in the standings and further out of the hunt for a spot in next season’s Europa League.

Despite bouncing back with a win five days after being held to a 2-2 draw by visiting Hertha Berlin, Leipzig’s players and coaching staff were not entirely pleased with their performance.

“I’ve got mixed feelings about this game. We scored four away from home – that’s definitely good. But we also conceded two, which is too many. So we aren’t 100 percent happy with the performance,” Gulasci was quoted as saying on the team’s Twitter account.

The team’s manager echoed those sentiments.

“It was a strange game, a wild game. With lots of ups and downs. We were a bit sleepy before they scored, and didn’t defend it as well as we could’ve,” Nagelsmann said.

Leipzig remain far off the pace of league-leading Bayern Munich (67 points), who are on pace to capture their eighth straight Bundesliga title. Borussia Dortmund are in second place with 60 points.

– Line-ups:

2 – Cologne: Timo Horn; Benno Schmitz (Jorge Mere, m. 75), Rafael Czichos, Toni Leistner, Noah Katterbach; Ellyes Skhiri, Jonas Hector; Florian Kainz (Dominick Drexler, m. 60), Elvis Rexhbecaj (Jan Thielmann, m. 59), Ismail Jakobs (Simon Terodde, m. 75); Jhon Cordoba (Anthony Modeste, m. 23).

4 – Leipzig: Peter Gulacsi; Nordi Mukiele, Dayot Upamecano, Lukas Klostermann; Christopher Nkunku, Marcel Sabitzer, Konrad Laimer (Tyler Adams, m. 59), Angeliño; Dani Olmo (Emil Forsberg, m. 85), Timo Werner; Patrik Schick (Amadou Haidara, m. 68).

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