Werder Bremen came within two minutes of taking all three points at the Rhein-Energie Stadion against 1FC Köln Saturday, only for a Matthias Lehmann penalty to hand the Geisböcke a deserved share of the spoils. After a heavy home loss to Bayern last week the Grün-Weißen were keen on getting back to winning ways against Köln to keep their dreams of Europa League qualification alive.
After a pre-match combined show of solidarity for the DFB’s ‘Mach einen Strich durch Vorurteile’ campaign against prejudice and discrimination, the two sides settled into a match which saw them fairly evenly matched in the opening minutes.
Franco Di Santo was back in the starting XI following his suspension last week with Davie Selke partnering him up front with Fin Bartels playing just behind them. Janek Sternberg was handed a start at left-back in place of Santiago Garcia.
The two sides largely cancelled each other out in the opening fifteen minutes as they organised themselves well and kept chances to a minimum. A superb piece of control from Di Santo carved out the first chance, but the Argentine fired over.
Werder’s first opportunity from a dangerous free kick rather surprisingly saw Sternberg firing in, rather than the normally deadly Zlatko Junuzovic. If it was meant to confuse the Köln defence, it did, but still proved fruitless,
Werder’s next chance provided the opening goal. A Junuzovic corner was flicked on by Anthony Ujah as he went up with Theodore Gebre Selassie and Selke found himself with enough time and space to control and fire in a low shot.
The hosts then had two opportunities of their own to get back on level terms but neither Ujah nor Kevin Wimmer were able to fully capitalise.
As the second period began and showed little evidence of a change in fortunes for either side the home side reacted by sending on Yuya Osako to increase the attacking options. It almost paid instant dividends as the Japanese striker missed a decent chance on 62 minutes.
The game seemed to have turned in the Rheinlander’s favour and with Werder not showing much evidence of killing the game off, it looked ominously like it would be Peter Stöger’s side that would score next.
There was a debatable penalty claim from Viktor Skripnik’s troops though after Levin Öztunali was clipped on the heel as he chased down a loose ball after keeper Timo Horn had parried an effort from Di Santo.
And so it came to pass as the clock ticked down to the 90 minute mark that Köln grabbed the goal that seemed to be the least they deserved. Daniel Halfar chipped the ball into the area and the substituted Garcia found himself following the ball and not the player as he collided with Bard Finne. There was very little intent, but the Werder fullback found himself bamboozled by the delivery and referee Robert Hartmann had very little option than to award the spot kick. Lehmann made no mistake firing into the roof of the net past a helpless Raphael Wolf.
To be perfectly honest Werder were not on top form and Köln’s second half display deserved a share of the spoils. That said it was a case of two important points dropped in Bremen’s quest for Europa League qualification, particularly with Eintracht Frankfurt and Augsburg losing and Hoffenheim being held goalless.
The international break is now upon us and Werder will have to regroup in preparation for winnable games against Mainz and Stuttgart and the Nordderby with HSV.
1FC Köln: Horn, Olkowski (Osako 58), Maroh, Wimmer, Hector, M. Lehmann, Vogt, Risse, Peszko (Halfar 73), Deyverson, Ujah (Finne 82)
Werder Bremen: Wolf, Gebre Selassie, Prödl, Vestergaard, Sternberg (Garcia 69), Bargfrede, Fritz, Junuzovic (Makiadi 90), Bartels, Selke (Öztunali 66), di Santo
0-1- Selke (27)
1-1- Lehmann (88pen)
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