Germany: Bundesliga
1 - 3
(0 - 3)
FC Köln
B. Embolo (85)
A. Modeste (5), F. Kainz (20), D. Ljubicic (34)
By James Westmacott

Köln dismantle neighbours Gladbach in deafening Rhine derby

FC Köln continued their impressive push for a European spot, swatting away local rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach with incredible ease in front of a cacophonous Borussia Park crowd.
One of the great local derbies of German football, this is a fixture with a discernible weight of history, one that never fails to dazzle.

It was the first time since the pandemic that the Gladbach faithful were able to return in full to the sun-soaked Borussia Park, with a Rhine derby providing the perfect fixture in which to do it. But the romanticism ended there for Die Fohlen.

Despite the home crowd’s best efforts, they could not prevent their team from being on the wrong end of a derby demolition, with their abhorred neighbours having truly taken them to the cleaners with a dominant first-half display.

Well-taken goals from the Effzeh front three Anthony Modeste, Florian Kainz, and Dejan Ljubičić, helped Köln on their way to just their second consecutive away win at Gladbach since 1982. A late Embolo goal for the hosts couldn’t prevent a prodigiously historic evening, with the visitors inflicting a humiliating season double over the hosts for the first time since the 1989-90 season. The 94th Bundesliga Rhine derby certainly lived up to its billing, and will undoubtedly live long in the memory of those associated with Die Geißböcke.

Amidst a frantic start, it was Gladbach that started well, creating some half-chances very early on, without being able to apply the finishing touches. Yet the tide quickly turned. After just 5 minutes, Effzeh were ahead. Star-striker Anthony Modeste finished off Florian Kainz’s delightful cross from the left flank, striking the ball exquisitely across Gladbach goalkeeper Jan Sommer to silence the raucous home crowd.

First touch, first chance, first goal – Modeste ended his goal drought in a fixture that really matters. Despite the hosts continuing to create chances in the immediate aftermath, they managed to exert little control over the tense affair. The incredible home atmosphere continued to fuel the hosts in their search for an equaliser, but they simply could not find it, with Köln goalkeeper Schwäbe making some fine saves to defend his side’s slender lead.

Köln doubled their lead in the 20th minute, sending the away supporters into raptures. With Gladbach’s Alassane Pléa deprived of the ball just inside his own half, the Effzeh midfield pounced. The ball eventually found its way to Mark Uth on the right-hand side, before pulling back expertly to find the vivacious Austrian Kainz, who slotted home a simply finish from just inside the six-yard box.

With the hosts still unable to establish a foothold in the game, it got even worse. After some pinball in the middle of the park, Mark Uth was once again the creator, providing Dejan Ljubičić with a sublime diagonal ball from left to right, leaving the latter with the chance to finish. Ljubičić finished incredibly coolly past Sommer into the bottom left-hand corner of the Gladbach goal, putting the visitors in utter dreamland. If you’d had been offered a 3-0 lead away at your local rivals after just 34 minutes, boy would you have taken it. 3-0 it remained until the break.

Köln merely continued the second half where they left off, creating some half-chances early on, emphasising how the game was firmly within the visitors’ grasp. With the home crowd having audibly deflated, exacerbated by their ailing, frail team, it was the visiting support making all the noise. Though, the home atmosphere wasn’t the only thing to suffer, with the game in general having flattened due to FC Köln’s supreme command of play, coupled with their unassailable lead.

Despite the game having entirely petered out, Gladbach managed to pull one back before the end, with Breel Embolo striking in the 85th minute, receiving the ball well from deep, controlling and notching the ball excellently into the Köln net, forstalling an Effzeh clean sheet.

With the game ending 3-1, FC Köln’s march towards a European adventure continues, with the club now sitting pretty in 6th place with just four games to play. For Gladbach, a four-game unbeaten run comes to end, compounding their thus-far mediocre season, which will now end with no taste of Bundesliga derby success.

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