Leipzig return to Champions League places after exciting win in Cologne


A vital fixture in the Champions League race, the visit of RB Leipzig to the RheinEnergie Stadium certainly meant more to the visitors than to the mid-table hosts.

In an interesting sub-plot, Julian Nagelsmann, the Leipzig boss, was actually Koln boss Markus Gisdol’s protege at Hoffenheim before beginning his infantile managerial career began, with the two helping the club away from relegation before the latter departed for Hamburg.

Leipzig, playing in a changed strip of black and brick red, began on top as expected. They forced Timo Horn into a stunning save with his feet from the dynamic Timo Werner after good play from both flanks from Christopher Nkunku and Nordi Mukiele.

It was the hosts who would strike first though.

After excellent movement from Benno Schmitz on the right hand side, Peter Gulacsi parried woefully away to hit the woodwork, only for the Colombian powerhouse Jhon Cordoba to fire in his 12th Bundesliga goal of the season from the rebound. It was only the 30th goal the Hungarian ‘keeper has conceded so far this term.

Cordoba was looking far too hot to handle for the young Leipzig centre backs as a floated cross from Ellyes Skhiri resulted in a powerful header, this time easily stopped by Gulacsi.

The lead only lasted ten minutes though. With Cordoba on the sidelines, former Q.P.R defender Toni Leistner gave the ball away to Konrad Laimer.

The industrious midfielder found Manchester City loanee Angelino, who whipped in to find the head of Patrik Schick. The Czech headed in excellently to level up proceedings and take his tally to eight for the season.

Cordoba was then forced off, being replaced by former Blackburn striker Anthony Modeste.

The next quarter of an hour was filled with a midfield battle, only for Leipzig’s dynamo to pull the trigger seven minutes prior to the break.

Laimer, a player gaining plaudits for his recent performances was once again involved, playing the deft pass into former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Christopher Nkunku. The Frenchman cheekily chipped over the head of Horn, with Leipzig claiming the advantage in consequence.

The second half began with Koln looking to get back into the game, but once again, the brilliance of RB Leipzig prevailed.

Five minutes into the period a free kick put in from Elvis Rexhbecaj was plucked from the air by Peter Gulacsi, and in true route one fashion, Timo Werner was one on one. Need I write any more?

The VfB Stuttgart youth product coolly slotted his 22nd goal of the season, eclipsing his previous personal best from 2017/18.

Much was talked from pundits at half-time about the absence of Cordoba – his replacement, Anthony Modeste, a proven Bundesliga goalscorer, had yet to hit the heights since his move to China.

But after a mistake from Lukas Klostermann, the Frenchman headed, controlled, and used Dayot Upamecano as a shield as he whipped in from 25 yards out- Koln back in it, and Modeste delighted.

But not for long as just 90 seconds later Leipzig reinstated their two goal lead.

A corner not dealt with by the Billy Goats defence fell to former Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Dani Olmo who curled in to rapturous Leipzig celebration. The Spaniard was cool and collected as he claimed his first Bundesliga goal.

Timo Werner again was involved in a race against the two comparatively slow Koln centre backs. This time Horn narrowed the angle and denied the German international.

Koln were then awarded a penalty and yet another opportunity to get back into the game after Klostermann tackled from behind on Anthony Modeste. However, on second viewing, the referee overturned his decision as Klostermann clearly made contact with the ball pre-Modeste. Still 4-2.

The hosts could and should have made it interesting going into the final minutes, but the French striker, albeit scoring a true screamer earlier in the match, missed a simple one-on-one and Modeste was left embarrassed.

That is how it would finish. Leipzig return to third in the four horse race for the Champions League spots, with Borussia Monchengladbach facing Freiburg away before hosting Bayern Munich on June 13th.

Koln remain 11th and are without a win in five.

Stonadge’s MAN OF THE MATCH – Christopher NKUNKU

This kid has potential. Ever since making his debut early on at PSG you knew, and the best place for any young talent to develop is the Bundesliga, but more specifically it has to be RB Leipzig.

And Nkunku is definitely flourishing in the right of midfield, and if he continues in this vein he will be a real force in this league and in Europe.

FC Koln: Horn; Schmitz (Mere 75), Czichos, Leistner, Katterbach; Hector, Shkiri, Kainz (Thielmann 57′), Rexhbecaj (Drexler 57), Jakobs (Terodde 75′); Cordoba (Modeste 29′)

Unused Substitutes: Hoger, Schindler, Kessler, Ehizhibue

RB Leipzig: Gulacsi; Mukiele, Upamecano, Klostermann,; Nkunku, Sabitzer, Laimer (Adams 59′), Tasende; Werner, Olmo (Forsberg 84′), Schick (Haidara 68′)

Unused Substitutes: Orban, Lookman, Wolf, Mvogo, Krauss


About Author

Sports Journalism student, streamer at LFC Transfer Room, Anfield Agenda. Liverpool fan with a particular interest in Welsh, Youth, and African football.

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