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5:1 in Cologne: Leipzig takes the lead in clash with Dortmund

Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi (r) saves the ball / Photo: Federico Gambarini/dpa
Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi (r) saves the ball / Photo: Federico Gambarini/dpa

Nine days ago, RB Leipzig was eliminated from the Champions League. However, with performances like the clear victory in Cologne, Leipzig will soon reappear.

Nine days after the bitter round of 16 exit against Real Madrid, RB Leipzig sent out an impressive signal in the battle for a direct return to the Champions League. The Saxons recorded a deserved 5-1 (1-1) win at 16th-placed 1. FC Köln to kick off matchday 26 and overtake Borussia Dortmund in the coveted fourth place for at least two nights. BVB can overtake them again with a win against Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, but a draw would not be enough for the runners-up.

On the other hand, FC are in danger of dropping into a direct relegation spot with eight matchdays to go before the end of the season. It was Cologne's heaviest home defeat since a 6-1 loss to Dortmund in March 2012. Xavi Simons had put the Saxons ahead (15th minute), but FC quickly equalized through Sargis Adamyan's first Bundesliga goal in 559 days (18th minute). But Loïs Openda made things clear with a brace (63-67). The Belgian, who joined from Lens in the summer, now has 19 goals to his name this season. Amadou Haidara (70') and Yussuf Poulsen (82') followed up.

From the kick-off, an attractive game developed with Leipzig clearly superior in terms of play and Cologne holding firm. However, it took a quarter of an hour for the first good chance to score - but it brought the 0:1. Xavi Simons finished off a great move with his right foot after work from Dani Olmo and Benjamin Sesko. It was the Dutchman's sixth goal of the season to make it 1-0 for his club. Only Bayern star Harry Kane has scored more often. However, the goalscorer then got carried away and provoked the Cologne fans in a completely unnecessary manner.

The reward followed promptly when FC equalized just three minutes later: After a corner kick from Florian Kainz and a header from Eric Martel, Adamyan eluded Benjamin Henrichs and pushed the ball over the line from two metres. But Leipzig then took control of the game. On the half-hour mark, Sesko missed a huge opportunity when he thumped the ball over the bar from three meters after Marvin Schwäbe had made a save from Olmo, while Henrichs missed from a promising position five minutes before the break. The proliferation of chances was brought to a head by the strong Olmo, who hit the post, and Openda, who failed to beat Schwäbe from three meters in stoppage time.

After the changeover, the game initially remained one-sided in favour of the visitors, but it was Cologne who provided the highlight of the game with a spectacular scissor kick from Max Finkgräfe (54'). When Openda completed another dream combination via Sesko and Xavi and then headed in a cross from David Raum, it was initially completely quiet in Cologne's World Cup Stadium. The FC fans regained their composure, but things got even worse for Cologne on the pitch.

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