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A. Delort (62)
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Köln and Nice play to 1-1 draw after delayed kickoff

By Peter Vice   @ViceytheSS

In a match delayed for over an hour by some disturbing riots in the stands, 1. FC Köln and OGC Nice split the difference on matchday 1 of the 2022/23 UEFA Europa Conference League group stage.
Marvin Schwäbe
Marvin SchwäbeSandro Halank CC-BY-SA 4.0
FC Köln and OGC Nice played to a 1-1 draw on Thursday evening in the German sides return to European club tournament football for the first time since the 2017/18 Europa League campaign. The German guests were by far the better side in the first half while their French hosts maintained the edge in the second 45.

Kickoff at the Allianz Riviera in Nice was delayed for over an hour following a riot in the stands between supporters of the opposing teams. The latest reports on this disturbing incident hold that 11 stadium patrons have been injured. Contrary to initial reports, the fan who fell from the middle tier stands onto the bottom row was actually an OGC Nice supporter. A spokesperson from the French authorities conveyed to the French associated press that the fan is conscious and in stable condition.

Köln trainer Steffen Baumgart was unable to coach his team from the sidelines in the encounter after incurring a suspension in Köln's second playoff leg against Fehévar two weeks ago. Baumgart's surrogate staff presided over the exact same XI that defeated Wolfsburg 4-2 over the weekend. The German outfit crossed paths with former Gladbach and Dortmund trainer Lucien Favre, who made wholesale changes to his side from their last league encounter. Among the new players introduced were former Bundesliga players Jean-Clair Todibo and Dante.

The German guests were very much more the active side in the opening ten minutes. Jan Thielmann missed three big opportunities between the 9th and 14th. Köln keeper Marvin Schwäbe's first bit of action came on a good save in the 17th. After that, however, it was die Geißböcke once again pummeling their French hosts. Dejan Ljubicic struck the post in the 18th. One minute later, Steffen Tigges scored the opening goal.

The former Dortmund striker's first tally in the colors of his new club came courtesy of some nice set-up work from German youth internationals Thielmann and Florian Kainz. Tigges only had to push the ball across the line off Thielmann's assist. The Domstädter kept up the pressure, but couldn't extend their lead over the duration of the half. Schwäbe preserved the 1-0 scoreline with an excellent save on Andy Delort in the 36th.

Favre's charges were the slightly better side in a second 45 that remained intense, yet produced fewer clear-cut chances. Schwäbe again had to be on his toes to save Delort in the 54th. Les Aiglons were awarded a penalty at the hour-mark after Timo Hübers handled a ball in the box. Delort duly converted from the spot and the scoreline was once again level. Nice's center forward hit the crossbar shortly thereafter.

Schwäbe had to again stop a Delort shot in the 74th and a less stinging effort from Marcus Thuram's younger brother Khephren one minute later. Gaetan Laborde really tested Schwäbe with a close range header six minutes from time, but the Köln net-minder kept his side from falling behind with a brilliant save.

The German guests - valiant enough in pressing for the winner in the final - ultimately found themselves frustrated by Favre's disciplined defensive ranks. There would be no more shots on target for the Effzeh and the match concluded with what seemed a fair 1-1 scoreline.

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