Germany: Bundesliga
1 - 1
(0 - 0)
FC Köln
E. Millot (53)
E. Martel (62)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Köln and Darmstadt pick up relegation race points, Gladbach snap winless skid

Three of the latest set of four 15:30 Bundesliga simultaneous kickoffs ended in draws on Saturday afternoon. The league's two bottom-placed sides, 1. FC Köln and SV Darmstadt, were able to take away points off respective opponents VfB Stuttgart and SV Werder Bremen. Both fixtures ended in 1-1 draws

A match between Union Berlin and FC Heidenheim ended in a 2-2 draw. In the only match not to wrap with the two teams sharing the spoils, Borussia Mönchengladbach prevailed 5-2 in a wild affair at Borussia Park that featured five goals in the final 20 minutes. 
Sebastian Hoeneß' VfB Stuttgart weren't able to extend their league winning streak to five consecutive victories on Saturday afternoon, but were able to remain unbeaten in their last five league fixtures after drawing FC Köln 1-1 at home on Saturday afternoon. Timo Schultz's cathedral city side were nevertheless not able to put much distance between themselves and the automatic drop spot with the point earned. Despite FSV Mainz 05's loss against Bayer 04 Leverkusen last night, Köln only lead the Rheinhessen by two points.

Injuries and suspensions forced Hoeneß to make three forced changes to his XI. With Deniz Undav and Maximilian Mittelstädt unable to participate, Enzo Millot and Anthony Rouault started. Millot replaced Undav behind lead-striker Serhou Guirassy on a like-for-like basis. Rouault began the match in central defense while Hiroki Ito swung out wide to play left-back. Josha Vagnoman took over for the suspended Pascal Stenzel at right back. One unenforced change saw Hoeneß preferr Woo-Yeong Jeong to Jamie Leweling on the right attacking flank.

Gerißböcke trainer Schultz's had one forced change to make. Center back Timo Hübers had to pass on short notice due to illness. Julian Chabot - available once again after sitting out last week on suspension - thus started alongside Luca Kilian. Schulz also replaced right back Benno Schmitz and attacking winger Linton Maina with fullback Rasmus Cartstensen and young phenom Justin Diehl. Köln lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Dejan Ljubicic moving to the right wing while Diehl worked the left.

The heavy underdogs did a surprisingly good job of holding their own in the opening ten minutes, restricting their hosts to no real scoring chances until Jeong tested keeper Marvin Schwäbe in the 13th. VfB backup net-minder Fabian Bredlow had been called into action much sooner, when Jan Thielmann stung his plans in the 3rd. After the two sides traded chances in the opening minutes, not much happened in an opening half during which much of the action was restricted to the midfield. The opening 45 closed deservedly goalless.

Stuttgart emerged from the tunnel still playing somewhat sleepy football. Only a critical last-ditch piece of defending from Rouault in the 50th prevented Thielmann from scoring the opening goal for the guests. Shortly after the early scare, however, the Swabians woke up began playing football. Ito and Chris Führich executed a wonderful combo play down the left. The latter sent in a brilliant cross for Millot in the 53rd. Millot finished off the dazzling attack for the 1-0. Schultz reacted to the deficit by introducing Maina and Fardie Alidou at the hour-mark.

The moves paid almost immediate dividends. Maina supplied the assist on Eric Martel's equalizer in the 63rd after a failed series of corner clearances from Stuttgart. Hoeneß responded to this with a triple substitution of his own. Mittelstädt and Mahmoud Dahoud entering a couple minutes later, as did VfB attacker Silas in his first appearance since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations. The best Württemberger chance to restore the lead came from a lovely bit of VfB set-up work involving Guirassy and Dahoud.

Millot had a brace on his foot from close range in the 68th, but was denied by a brilliant save from Schwäbe. Köln defended resolutely down the stretch, ensuring that no other efforts got as far as Schwäbe. Martel and Chobot made their contributions with vital clearances. The best chance at a further goal came in the 85th when Kölner sub Alidou sent an excellent close-range chance into the side netted. The match concluded in a 1-1 draw.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, Heidenheim and 1. FC Union Berlin also split the difference in a 2-2 draw at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Last-placed SV Darmstadt 98 were also able to take a point off Bremen during their visit to the Weserstadion. Torsten Lieberknecht's Lilies thought they had perhaps secured a shock late upset, but two late Tim Skarke goals were chalked off after video review. The match also ended 1-1.

In the only other match of the simultaneous kickoffs not to end in a draw, Borussia Mönchengladbach were able to snap a five-match winless run and finally get back to winning ways with a big 5-2 win over visiting VfL Bochum. BMG attackers Jordan, Franck Honorat, and Nathan Ngoumou got their names on the scoresheet in the victory, as did young German midfield phenom Rocco Reitz.

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