Europa Conference League
4 - 2
(2 - 0)
FC Köln
S. Adamyan (11), F. Dietz (42), D. Ljubicic (65), D. Ljubicic (74)
J. Kalabiška (49), M. Petržela (52)
By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

Köln survive Slovácko second-half scare as Ljubicic brace seals 4-2 win

While Köln made the Czech side pay with two goals from corners, a quickfire second-half double levelled matters on 52 minutes. Fortunately for Baumgart's charges, a Dejan Ljubicic brace gifted Effzeh a thrilling win.
After an eventful draw against Nice last time out, 1.FC Köln entertained 1.FC Slovácko this evening under the floodlit Cathedral City sky. The Czech side similarly got their Conference League campaign off to a stalemate with fellow Group D side Partizan Belgrade, but it was Baumgart’s Köln who took all three points tonight after goals from Adamyan, Dietz, and a brace from Ljubicic.

The game took a lively start the second the game kicked off as Slovacko Tomáš Fryšták came under fire in the first minute, while Schwäbe made a save of his own to settle the nerves at the other end. Just as the clock hit 11 minutes Koln hit the front through Sargis Adamyan. Maina’s in-swinging corner found the head of Luca Killian who directed the ball to the back post where the Armenian lay in wait to tap. Köln fans left overjoyed as their side took the early lead.

Slovácko’s first chance fell to them in the 25th minute when Marek Havlík’s long-range effort curled the wrong side of Schwäbe’s left upright. While Köln were in control, Slovácko threatened and a fine save from Schwäbe prevented full-back Petr Reinberk who should have converted the guilt edged opportunity. The reintroduced Florian Dietz missed a great chance to double the Effzeh lead minutes before the break, but the striker didn’t have to wait long as his header from a 42nd minute corner made it 2-0. Dietz almost turned provider for Ljubicic instantaneously after the restart however the Austrian failed to beat Fryšták. It was a healthy lead for Köln at the break as they took advantage of their power from corners and set pieces while Linton Maina impressed.

It was almost role reversal in the second-half as the visitors quickly reduced the arrears. Petržela cut in from the right and while his shot was blocked by Soldo, the rebound fell for Kalabiška who thundered a volley in off the crossbar. Slovácko tails were up at this early stage of the second-half, and within 3 minutes of their first goal the Czech club were level. After some pinball football inside a nervy Köln box. This time the ball broke for the 39-year-old Petržela whose sweet right-footed volley made it 2-2. Baumgart felt it was only right to introduce the cavalry and restore some control from the bench – the experienced Hector, Skhiri, and Hübers, replaced Petersen, Duda, and Soldo.

A clumsy tackle from Slovácko’s Hofmann felled Ljubicic in the box with 25 minutes left. Köln’s number seven stepped up to convert from the spot sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and restored the home side’s lead. Maina, who had been a real thorn in the Czechs’ side with his blistering pace was on hand to put the tie to bed on 74 minutes – the German’s perfect cross found the unmarked Ljubicic at the back post who doubled his personal tally and Effzeh’s lead on the night. In the end, Köln ran out comfortable winners despite the early second-half onslaught from a talented Slovacko side to top Group D after Matchday 2.

Euro 2024

Bundesliga End of Season Awards

Long reads

Exclusive interviews

Team News