1899 unlucky in Köln stalemate

1899 Hoffenheim managed to put the disappointing defeat to reigning champions FC Bayern München behind them, but on Matchday 23 they were unable to transform their dominance against 1. FC Köln into all three points. The poor chance conversion meant that Marco Pezzaiuoli's men had to do with a 1-1 draw inside the Rhein-Neckar Arena.

For the reunion with former 1899 player Christian Eichner, head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli made no changes to the line-up that began the match in Munich. The concerns regarding Isaac Vorsah were dispelled as he overcame bruising in his knee to start alongside Marvin Compper, with Beck and Ibertsberger occupying the flanks. In midfield, Pezzaiuoli kept faith in Rudy, despite a poor performance against Bayern, with Salihovic and Alaba offering support for the youngster. Vukcevic and Babel continued either side of Vedad Ibisevic. Bad news for 1899, though, as Tobias Weis had to pull out at short notice after picking up a foot injury meaning he was unavailable against Köln.

Hoffenheim began the match positively, just as Pezzaiuoli had demanded and seemed determined to make sure all three points stayed in Sinsheim. They put the visitors under pressure straight away pressing high up the pitch, while putting some slick passing moves together on the attacking end. Vukcevic had the first chance of the match after three minutes, but couldn't connect with the header properly. Köln were battling hard in the midfield and winning a lot of the 50-50 balls, just as Pezzaiuoli had predicted. 1899 were also very wary of the counter-attacking strength of the Billy Goats and Compper had to be alert when Podolski fed through Novakovic. The defender dealt well with the situation and managed to clear his lines effectively. Hoffenheim continued to dictate the pace of the game, whilst remaining sturdy at the back. 1899 almost got lucky when a poor backpass forced Rensing to kick the ball out at the back. However, Ibisevic privy to the danger closed the keeper down and the ball almost bounced off his back and into the back of the net, but Rensing showed great awareness to keep the ball out. The fans in attendance certainly can't have had any complaints about the pace of the game, though. Towards the end of the first half the game was a bit more back and forth, but neither side was able to find the breakthrough. The best chance of the half fell to Ibisevic when he twice managed to get his head on the ball only for the first to be saved by Rensing and the second to come back off the post. It brought an end to a hard-fought first half, with Hoffenheim running the game and Köln biding their time waiting to hit the hosts on the counter-attack.

Neither side made any changes during the break. Definitely the right decision by Pezzaiuoli as Hoffenheim wasted no time after half time as they looked to press their advantage and got their just rewards after three minutes. Rudy whipped in a delightful in-swinging free-kick and it only needed a touch from Novakovic to find the back of his own net, giving 1899 a deserved lead at a crucial juncture in the match through a difficult own goal. Köln started falling apart after the breakthrough and Rensing had to come to the rescue on two occasions to keep his side in the match. Salihovic set Babel through on goal for the first chance, but Rensing just got enough on the ball after the Dutch striker had tried to lift it over the keeper. The second fell to Ibisevic, but he too failed to convert as Rensing repelled his effort from close range. With 1899 failing to put the game to bed, Köln were still switching from defence to attack with surprising pace, which was causing problems at the back for the home side, as Peszko went closest by hitting the side netting. Then on the 65th minute Hoffenheim really should have extended their lead, however, the post once again thwarted Ibisevic. Babel then did his best Arjen Roben impression cutting in from the right; unfortunately his shot could only clip the outside of the post. The Cathedral City side were living dangerously, but out of nothing managed to punish the hosts for their inability to score a second. Youssef Mohamad was the unlikely hero as he nodded home a Christian Clemens free-kick and they almost scored a second four minutes later. Novakovic got on the end of Podolski's ball into the box, but Tom Starke was on hand to provide the heroics and push the ball away from danger. Then with time winding down Rensing again denied Ibisevic, while Salihovic couldn't get his free-kick past the Köln wall. Despite the introduction of Peniel Mlapa and Gylfi Sigurdsson, the match ended 1-1 leaving 1899 to rue their missed chances.


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