Mainz deliver late sucker punch to sink FC Köln in crucial relegation match
By Peter Vice @ViceytheSS
A captivatingly gritty affair between the 16th and 17th placed teams in the Bundesliga ended with Mainz snatching a late 3-2 victory over Köln at the RheinEnergieStadion.
|RheinEnergieStadion.||Photo: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas|
The was certainly a sense of early hope for Markus Gisdol's Geißböcke as the cathedral city club welcomed lead striker Sebastian Andersson (first appearance in 2021) and winger Florian Mainz (first appearance this season) back into the starting XI. The under-fire Gisdol could be spotted laughing alongside Köln sporting director Horst Heldt on the sidelines. As of late, Heldt has only been guaranteeing Gisdol's job on a match-to-match basis.
Even after Mainz grabbed an early lead, Köln played like a much improved team that had every chance of earning all three points. Jean-Paul Boetius opened the scoring in the 11th, serviced every well by Danny da Costa and Leandro Barreiro following a bad Domstädter turnover. Despite this, Gisdol's XI generated the lion's share of first-half chances. Ondrej Duda tied up matters shortly before the break from the penalty spot.
The hosts continued to look the more consistent side after the break. A fine Jonas Hector free-kick in the 61st was meant by Ellyes Skhiri crashing in at the far post. The Tunisian international found the back of the net and appeared to be the hero. Unfortunately, Skhiri would lose track of Boetius a mere four minutes later. This enabled the Nullfünfter attacker to slide over for a streaking Karim Onisiwo. An easy finish meant Köln had blown their lead.
Matters got worse still for the billy goats. Substitutes Jannes Horn and Tolu Arokodare could only hit the side netting. Barreiro would make no such mistake when it came his turn to break the deadlock. Phillipp Mwene cut back well for the Luxemburger at 90+1 and the straightforward finish was spot on.
Matters might get worse still for Köln with Leverkusen awaiting next week in what will surely be a fierce Rhineland derby. With only six fixtures left, die Geißböcke find themselves running out of time.