Steffen Baumgart made four changes from the team that picked up a point in Freiburg last weekend. Luca Kilian, Ellyes Skhiri, Jan Thielmann and Ondrej Duda made their way into the line-up in place of Jorge Meré, Salih Özcan, Florian Kainz and Sebastian Andersson.
Jesse Marsch opted for five alterations after defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday. Mohamed Simakan, Josko Gvardiol, Kevin Kampl, Amadou Haidara and Dominik Szoboszlai replaced Nordi Mukiele, Angelino, Tyler Adams, Konrad Laimer and Emil Forsberg.
The game began as everyone expected. Full of life, energy and nothing in mind but attacking. Leipzig came through an early period of FC pressure to turn the screw on Steffen Baumgart’s side. Dominik Szoboszlai had an effort brought back for offside before Christopher Nkunku cracked the post with a curling shot from 20 yards. However, as time went on, FC managed to get to grips and battle back.
Ondrej Duda then went close after Benno Schmitz managed to hook the ball back into the penalty area, with the Slovakian playmaker’s effort crashing against the upright. Leipzig responded in kind, with Amadou Haidara being denied by Timo Horn before the FC stopper managed to claw away the dangerous Szoboszlai’s free-kick from the top corner.
Just before the break, FC managed to break free of the Leipzig shackles and thought they had taken the lead. Ondrej Duda slid in Anthony Modeste, who unselfishly squared for Mark Uth to tap in. However, it was pulled back for offside. Jonas Hector also tested Peter Gulacsi with a late, low drive but the Hungarian stopper was equal to his shot and the teams went in level at the break.
FC were the stronger side following the restart and what followed was a rollercoaster of emotions. Anthony Modeste headed a corner narrowly wide before firing home moments later, only to be correctly called offside after a superb pass from Ondrej Duda. Nevertheless, the striker kept on battling and finally got his reward.
As Mohamed Simakan attempted to clear the ball, he sliced his clearance straight to Modeste and he thundered home off the crossbar to give FC the lead. However, Dr. Felix Brych brought the play back for offside. After a long consultation with the Video Assistant Referee and a look at the monitor, the goal was given. At the centre of the pandemonium in Müngersdorf was Modeste, on what would have been his father’s birthday, who sent a message towards the heavens with his trademark celebration before sharing a meaningful embrace with Mark Uth and his team-mates.
That awoke the Leipzig attack ranks, who turned up the heat. Timo Horn was in the right place at the right time to deny Emil Forsberg before Yussuf Poulsen fired wide. The Swedish midfielder then found the back of the net, only to see his effort ruled out for offside. After Horn again pulled out a solid stop to keep out Nkunku, the inevitable happened. A corner from the left was met by Amadou Haidara, who powered home from close range off the crossbar to level the scores.
The days of sitting back and defending an already positive result against the second-placed team from last season have gone. Dominik Szoboszlai tested Horn again before Kingsley Ehizibue produced a Maldini-esque tackle to halt Nkunku’s run. Horn saved from Poulsen before the best save of the lot, using his head to deflect Szoboszlai’s lob past the post.
However, the greatest chance fell to FC with the final meaningful move of the match. Sebastian Andersson broke forward after great work on the wing from Salih Özcan. Andersson went through on goal and save his shot saved by Gulacsi, with the rebound falling to Ondrej Duda but he was unable to crown a fine performance with a goal.
A duel more than fitting of the Topspiel slot was finally brought to a close where 94 minutes felt like a game cut too short. FC remain in seventh on eight points and travel to face Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday at 15:30 CEST in the Deutsche Bank Park.
1. FC Köln (4-1-3-2): T. Horn – Schmitz (Schindler 82‘), Kilian, Czichos (Meré 31‘), Hector – Skhiri – Ljubicic, Duda, Thielmann (Özcan 82‘) – Modeste (Andersson 68‘), Uth (Ehizibue 68‘).
Leipzig (4-2-3-1): Gulacsi – Klostermann, Simakan, Orban, Gvardiol – Haidara (Adams 85‘), Kampl – Nkunku, Olmo (Forsberg 58‘), Szoboszlai (Laimer 90+3‘) – Silva (Poulsen 58‘).
Goals: 1:0, Modeste 53’. 1:1, Haidara 71‘.
Referee: Dr. Felix Brych (München).
Booked: Czichos (16’), Klostermann (76’), Meré (76’), Schmitz (79’).
Attendance: 25,000 (sold-out).
€ 79.99 *