Leverkusen started strongly in the game and thought they had taken the lead inside the first five minutes, but FC’s stepped out in time to catch Milena Nikolic offside before she fired home. The hosts came close again moments later as Henrietta Csiszar fired past the far post from the edge of the area.
Sascha Glass’ side began to find their feet as Amber Barrett started to see more of the ball going forward. Yet, despite getting that foothold, it was Leverkusen who went ahead. Ivana Rudelic was sent through on goal by Nikolic, and she placed the ball past the oncoming Elvira Herzog from 12 yards out.
Things got worse just four minutes later. Ann-Kathrin Vinken found space on the right and fired in a cross towards Rudelic, who fired a fantastic volley into the top corner of the helpless Herzog’s goal. The remainder of the half saw Leverkusen recycle possession and press high, meaning FC found it increasingly difficult to make something happen going forward.
Leverkusen went close once more through Rudelic, yet Herzog was equal to the effort and produced a fine save. Despite that, FC continued to plug away and late on got their reward. Beckmann drove forward and after Johanna Tietge’s shot blocked back to the attacker, she managed to compose herself and curl home from the edge of the area to reduce the deficit.
The hosts started the second-half as they did the first, with Nikolic firing narrowly off target twice in quick succession. Even when Leverkusen did have the early openings in the second period, FC were stronger in the tackle and looked to make more of the ball when in possession. That hope that had built before the break took a knock just eight minutes after the restart, as Francesca Calo unfortunately deflected Nikolic’s cross into her own net.
That goal dented the FC confidence but Glass responded with the introduction of Sonja Giraud and Kristina Hild to bring in some fresh impetus. Herzog had to be alert to deny Dora Zeller after a fine pass from Uebach as the hosts attempted to put the game to bed. The Swiss goalkeeper made two more important stops moments later, with Rudelic keen to get her hat-trick.
FC tried to find a way through late on and almost managed to get that elusive goal, only to see Sonja Giraud’s effort edge narrowly past the upright. At the other end, the dangerous Zeller draw another save from Herzog. FC will now have to better Duisburg’s result against Jena at the weekend. Glass’ take on SC Sand next Sunday at Franz-Kremer-Stadion.
Bayer Leverkusen (4-4-2): Klink – Vinken, Barth, Wirtz, Jessen – Uebach (Kerschowski 86’), Wich (Reger 80‘), Csiszar, Zeller – Nikolic, Rudelic (Machtens 90+2‘).
1. FC Köln (4-4-2): Herzog – Horvat (Schraa 73‘), Calo, Nietgen, Rinast – Meßmer (Hild 61‘), Gisch, Tietge (Linden 82‘), Beckmann – Barrett, Kohr (Giraud 61‘).
Goals: 1:0, Rudelic 17’. 2:0, Rudelic 21’. 2:1, Beckmann 45+1’. 3:1, Calo OG 53’.
Referee: Franziska Wildfeuer (Lübeck).
Booked: Gosch (44’), Tietge (55’).