Germany: Bundesliga
2 - 1
(0 - 0)
FC Köln
S. Tigges (90), L. Waldschmidt (90)
F. Passlack (53)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Exhalation and exasperation follow Köln's spectacular late win over Bochum

Emotions were running high (and understandably in entirely different directions) after the spectacular late comeback win that gave renewed survival hopes to 1. FC Köln and officially dragged VfL Bochum back into the relegation fray on Saturday afternoon. 

Köln sporting director Christian Keller could barely contain his excitement. Bochum administrator Patrick Fabian, meanwhile, couldn't disguise his rage. Fabian declined to back his head-coach, who himself admitted to felling "empty inside" after the latest defeat. 
FC Köln's dramatic late comeback win over relegation rivals VfL Bochum essentially turned the 2023/24 German Bundesliga's relegation race on its head. Bochum entered second half injury time lording over a 1-0 lead. Had the scoreline remained that way, Bochum would have gone six points clear of the relegation pack. Germany's cathedral city side, on the other hand, would have found themselves four points behind Saturday winners Mainz in the race for the relegation playoff place.

Two goals in second half stoppage time from Timo Schultz's Effzeh flipped the script. Köln now find themselves only one point behind Mainz in 17th place. The Domstädter are now only four points adrift of outright safety. Bochum - on 26 points in 18th place - have now gone winless in six straight league fixtures since upsetting Bayern on match-day 22. Thomas Letsch's Revierklub have clawed one solitary point from a 2-2 draw with Darmstadt last week while dropping the other five fixtures.

VfL administrator Patrick Fabian - after watching the team blow a lead for the second consecutive week in a row - noted that everyone would be subject to analysis after the latest loss. This included the trainer the club extended with earlier this season. It appeared as if Bochum's gamble with Letsch was paying great dividends shortly after the turn of the calendar year. Wins against top four sides Bayern and Stuttgart left many feeling as if the 1848ers no longer belonged in the relegation discussion.

That has certainly changed.

"That was more than just a defeat for us," Fabian railed when speaking to the Sky microphones just after the full-time whistle, "The opponent was clinically dead. I can't recall ever having lost like that. It will take a few hours to properly digest it. Everyone is now challenged and that includes the coaching team. We will discuss all of this with the coaching team. Today, one just doesn't know what to do with one's anger. This is brutal and we can't carry on like this."

Fabian did take care to praise Letsch as someone who knew "how to make a lot out of a little" and noted that it wasn't long ago that the 55-year-old was recently celebrated as the "secret hero of the league". The club's co sporting director insisted that no one in the organization entertained thoughts of relegation, even if "no one cares to wager a dime on us." Letsch himself spoke of an "empty feeling inside" at his post-match presser.

FC Köln sporting director Christian Keller obviously experienced the exact opposite emotion. The 47-year-old also couldn't avoid using the adjective "brutal" when describing the finish to Saturday afternoon's fixture. For the embattled club executive, however, it was more about the "brutal" abyss of relegation his club faced at the end of normal time. With a two-year transfer-ban in place, the club would have great difficulty competing in the second division.

"We were almost gone," Keller admitted in his post-match comments, "It was only after Bochum scored that we dared to play football. It wasn't good, but it at least resembled football. This means we're back in it. The team deserved it as things haven't broken our way this season. It's not very bright yet, but at least there are three teams fighting to stay in the league. Our goal is to reach the relegation playoffs."

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