1. FC Köln 1 Fortuna Düsseldorf 1: Ujah retakes the point

They say there are no signs to Cologne from Düsseldorf, such is the rivalry between the two neighbouring cities on the Rhine. Both citizens claim to host the better carnivals and the finer beer. However, due the club’s divergent recent histories, the football rivalry has lain somewhat dormant.

The last time these two teams met was in April 1999. The match marked a rare moment of glory in an otherwise dismal season for Fortuna who finished bottom of the table around a month later. The Düsseldorf club beat the Billygoats 2-1 and it was Albanian striker Igli Tare who scored both goals.

In the preceding seasons, both teams had crossed each other’s path regularly. However, Fortuna went further into decline in the years that followed and almost went out of business, before rising from the rubble of their old stadium and back into the national leagues.

Meanwhile, Köln have “enjoyed” the yo-yo existence of a club not quite able to sustain top flight football while always feeling that they were destined for more than the second division. Last Sunday, both clubs met on an equal footing for the first time in years in a derby match. Such was the anticipation that a gang of Fortuna fans travelled to Cologne to “steal the points” in a very literal sense.

The game itself had all the blood and thunder you might expect of a derby but as a football match it wasn’t much to look at and only really got going when the home side decided to turn up.

Despite having marginally less possession, Fortuna Düsseldorf were the only team with any ambition in the first half. The RheinEnergieStadion was packed and raucous with 50,000 locals making up for lost time. While the Köln players may have been affected by the atmosphere, the team also lacked shape. Anthony Ujah is an excellent lone striker but his supporting midfielders were unable to connect any dots and he was left to his own devices.

Fortuna’s goal came after twelve minutes and stemmed from a poor clearance from Jonas Hector which found Mathis Bolly, whose swooping cross was headed goalward by Stefan Reisinger. Köln ‘keeper Timo Horn kept the ball out but couldn’t make it stick and Charlison Benshop poked it into the back of the net.

The goal did little for Köln’s morale and it looked very likely that referee Knut Kircher would blow for half time before the home side could so much as manage as a shot. Their best chance came to the captain, Mišo Brečko,, who failed to get on the end of an overhit through ball into the area. Eventually there was an attempt on goal in the form of a ridiculously optimistic effort from a long range free kick from Mato Jajalo which bounced off the Fortuna wall.

Jajalo was substituted at half time along with Yannick Gerhardt to be replaced by Daniel Halfar and Matthias Lehmann.

The mood of the fans improved somewhat, after the interval, when Hector won a corner from a wayward shot that elicited an ironic cheer from the home fans. Moments later, Marcel Risse beat his full back and found himself with space and time to find the onrushing Ujah at the far post but instead chose to attempt a cheeky lob, which Giefer claimed without fuss. However, the equaliser finally came after 67 minutes. Both of Köln’s full backs, Hector and Brečko were more ready to move forward after the break and it was the former’s cross that found Ujah, whose diving header rendered Giefer redundant.

In the minutes that followed, Fortuna were struggling to keep a hold on their opposition and Köln should have won the game. As their host’s full backs pushed on, Düsseldorf ’s two flank players, Bolly and Axel Bellinghausen lost their influence. Ujah missed a close range shot from a Brečko cross by inches and had another shot saved by Giefer’s legs.

However, the second goal never came and as the minutes ticked away, that lack of confidence, prevalent in the first half, surfaced and Düsseldorf found their way back. From that point, a winner was unlikely and when the final whistle blew, both sets of players looked relieved to have survived an emotional derby with their honour intact.

In fairness, an occasion such as this so soon after the start of the season is far from ideal and it would be unwise to draw any conclusions as to either of these teams promotion prospects. However, at least it’s over with and both clubs can get on with the rest of the Hinrunde while both cities go back to less sharply defined disputes.

Teams

1. FC Köln
Timo Horn, Dominic Maroh, Roman Golobart, Jonas Hector, Mišo Brečko, Adam Matuschyk, Yannick Gerhardt (Daniel Halfar, 46′), Marcel Risse (Maurice Exslager, 80′), Mato Jajalo (Matthias Lehmann, 46′), Thomas Bröker, Anthony Ujah

Head coach: Peter Stöger

Fortuna Düsseldorf
Fabian Giefer, Dustin Bomheuer, Leon Balogun, Tobias Levels, Cristian Ramírez, Adam Bodzek, Axel Bellinghausen, Andreas Lambertz, Charlison Benschop (Oliver Fink, 82′), Stefan Reisinger (Levan Kenia, 59′), Mathis Bolly (Gerrit Wegkamp. 90+1′)

Head coach: Mike Büskens

Header courtesy of rp-online.de

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