VAR played a central role in Schalke's downfall, while Hector, Kainz, & Ljubicic and Co. shone in impressive fashion as Koln soared without Modeste present.
|Jonas Hector.||Photo: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 4.0|
Schalke thought they made the prefect start to their Bundesliga return inside 10 minutes of action. Ouwejan’s free kick from the right flank was comfortably cleared, however the ball fell perfectly for Zalazar who unfurled a thunderous strike into the roof of the net. However, Koln got off the hook when VAR intervened, clearly spotting S04’s Yoshida impeding goalkeeper Marvin Schwabe’s view. At the other end, Koln’s corners were causing bother for the Schalke rear guard – Kainz’s delivery should have been guided home, but Chabot was caught on his heels and his desperate lunge for the ball trickled wide of the post.
Florian Dietz, filling in for Modeste, was beginning to impose himself more and more on the early proceedings. Having narrowly missed an earlier chance, the German striker got on the end of a Schmitz cross looking certain to score but for the reactions of Schwolow between Die Koenigsblauen posts. Just after the half hour mark, and referee Robert Schroder was encouraged to refer to VAR once more. Former FC Koln midfielder Dominick Drexler’s studs caught the back of Jonas Hector’s calf and was promptly given his marching orders after what was deemed a straight red card reducing Schalke to 10 men.
Ljubicic was without doubt one of the liveliest players on the field in the opening 45 minutes, and the Austrian maintained that form into the opening exchanges of the second half. Such was the lack of marking with 10 men, it didn’t take long before the scoreboard read 1-0 in favour of the home side. Ljubicic was afforded space to find captain Hector who in turn picked out Kilian who converted with ease from 6 yards out.
On an afternoon where Schalke fell victim to the hawk-like eye of VAR, quite the contrary was the case for Baumgart’s Koln charges. After substitute Adamyan created havoc in the Schalke box and Kainz buried the ball to an empty net, a free appeared to be given for a foul on Schwolow who attempted to claim the ball in the build up to the goal. On second watching, the German shot stopper on loan from Hertha BSC, collided with his own defender and Schroder saw no reason to chalk the goal off awarding Koln the 2-0 lead.
Schalke managed to reduce the arrears with 15 minutes to go. Ouwejan’s excellent delivery from the left flank found the head of substitute Marius Bulter. The ball only needed the deftest of touches to guide it past the rooted Schwabe for 2-1. S04’s revival was short lived however, as Thielmann found space on the right-hand side, crossed without difficulty, and picked out the brilliant Ljubicic who headed home with the help of the post for 3-1.
Koln travel to Leipzig next weekend with wind in their sails, while Schalke will look to bounce back in Gelsenkirchen when they face Gladbach.