Davie double leaves Die Werkself Selke-ing
1.FC Köln moved 10 points clear of the relegation places with a hard-fought 2-1 win over high-flying Bayer Leverkusen at BayArena, damaging the hosts’ dreams of a top-six finish by inflicting their first defeat in 15 competitive matches.
Leverkusen and Köln arrived into the clash following frustrating results against maiden top-four challengers Union Berlin and SC Freiburg respectively, yet not many would have expected home goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký to swiftly concede just his second goal in over six hours of play. Davie Selke drew first blood with a swift header into the bottom corner, before Leverkusen retaliated with an assault of their own.
Taking advantage of a failed attack, Nadiem Amiri set a counter-attack in motion, ending with Amine Adli firing a first-time shot to punish an unsuspecting Köln backline. However, that didn’t prevent Die Geißböcke from sticking to their plan of overpowering the opposition with their five-man diamond-shaped midfield. And surely enough, Steffen Baumgart’s tactics paid dividends 10 minutes from HT, as Jan Thielmann fed Selke from the right wing for the striker to register his brace with a poacher’s finish.
The second period began in bizarre fashion, as the away fans displayed their displeasure at bringing forward this clash to Friday, in light of Leverkusen’s UEFA Europa League semi-final showdown against AS Roma, by throwing tennis balls on the pitch. That didn’t affect the tempo of the game though, as Xabi Alonso’s men continued to be challenged head-to-toe by a side eager to claim a third successive top-flight away victory.
However, As hard as Die Werkself toiled, it proved fruitless in the end, with the visitors ultimately tasting three straight wins on the road for the first time since 1996.
A first defeat in five home games also brings an end to an impressive run of nine league matches unbeaten for Leverkusen, who now must negotiate a tricky trip to the Italian capital next week. Meanwhile, Steffen Baumgart will go home a happy man after winning just a second touchline meeting with Leverkusen in seven encounters – a win that also seals a first Bundesliga victory on a Friday for the visitors in seven attempts.