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Germany: Bundesliga
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Schalke 04
FC Köln
M. Hoppe (57)
R. Czichos (31), J. Thielmann (90)

Köln's Jan Thielmann breaks Schalke hearts in stoppage time

By Akhil Fisher   @akhil_fisher

In a match that saw two relegation contenders battle it out at the Veltins Arena, Köln came out on top in the dying minutes.
Schalke 04 coach Christian Gross.
Schalke 04 coach Christian Gross.
Schalke were minutes away from drawing their fifth game but ended up losing for a joint-record 14th time this Bundesliga season.

Matchday 17 of the Bundesliga saw Schalke 04 welcome West-German neighbours 1. FC Köln in a clash that hung hopes for a starting march away from the relegation zone for both the clubs. Köln came into the match in the 16th place with 12 points, five points ahead of bottom-placed Schalke. Both teams came into the clash unchanged despite it being a mid-week encounter. Schalke’s returning hero Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sat out of the teamsheet.

Schalke dominated the first quarter hour as they registered a surprisingly high ratio of 70% possession and put the visitors on the back foot. The first real chance came in for Cologne as they saw Duda’s dipping free-kick create a bit of a problem for Ralph Fährmann and the Blues’ defence.

With the visitors constantly racking up set-pieces, a corner did the trick in the 31st minute as Rafael Czichos scored a header after Dominick Drexler struck a volley across the six yard box. As the first half neared its end, Cologne dominated Schalke and the hosts faded as the half wore on.

The second half was a close affair, but Benjamin Stambouli almost made it two up for Cologne after he mishit Marius Wolf’s cross onto his own goal post. Couple of minutes later, in the 57th minute, it was once again the American sensation Matthew Hoppe who equalized for Die Knappen. Amine Harit’s failed through ball fell right in the striker’s line and he poached in the loose ball with a wonderful finish.

Schalke continued to pile in pressure on the Cologne defence, led by the creative Harit. But just like the first half, the home team withered as the second half played on. Finally, at the death, it was two Cologne substitutes who clinched the winner for the Billy Goats. 23-year-old Elvis Rexbecaj sent in a deft pass through a Schalke disarrayed Schalke defence and it was Jan Thielmann who knocked in a fantastic finish, in stoppage time.

Schalke have now lost 12 matches and conceded 44 goals throughout the season – sitting bottom of the relegation zone. Cologne themselves are fighting relegation and possess fifteen points. They sit in the 16th place, subject to Arminia Bielefeld’s result against VfB Stuttgart.

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