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Köln remain in the Bundesliga after 5-1 thrashing of Kiel

By Peter Vice   @ViceytheSS

New Geißböcke trainer Steffen Baumgart will once again coach a top-tier side when he takes the reins at 1. FC Köln next season.

The German Bundesliga's very-first champions are staying up after a 5-1 dismantling of Holstein Kiel in the second leg of the 2020/21 promotion-relegation-playoff. 
Timo Horn.
Timo Horn.Photo: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
In a somewhat aberrant occurrence for the region, the sunshine beamed down on Holstein stadium on Germany's Baltic coast Saturday afternoon. While there may not have been any rain falling from the sky, an early hailstorm of goals ensured a decisive result for endangered top-tier side FC Köln.

Despite the fact that 2. Bundesliga side Holstein Kiel entered the fixture with the advantage of having scored an away goal in the first leg, coach Ole Werner had to build an XI without lead striker Janni Serra (injury) and key defender Johannes van den Burgh (suspension). At the end of a grueling campaign, Werner also rotated out two additional actors for fitness reasons.

Köln interim trainer Friedhelm Funkel, on the other hand, welcomed the return of striker Sebastian Andersson. Speedy fullbacks Kingsley Ehizibue and Jannes Horn were also available to be rotated in, as was winger Florian Kainz. Köln struck almost immediately. Team captain Jonas Hector, who absolutely refused to be talked down after the side's loss on Wednesday, finished off an Ondrej Duda cross in the 3rd.

The tally drew Köln level on aggregate, but the excitement was short lived. Barely sixty seconds later, a lurking Jae-Sung Lee headed home a rebound off of a Finn Portal shot. Effzeh keeper Timo Horn was way off his line after his side dealt poorly with a Kiel counter and the Korean international, who might yet still play in the Bundesliga next season, finished with the deftest of awareness.

It wouldn't take long for the game's next goal to come. Andersson put die Geißböcke back on top two minutes after that with the fixture's third headed finish. Kainz supplied the cross in this case. Absurdly enough, Köln's early season transfer flop headed in another goal (off another Kainz cross) in the 13th. Funkel's crew were now up 3-1.

Werner's team appeared more or less resigned to their fate thereafter. A Rafael Czichos blast to make it 4-1 shortly before the break didn't help matters. The Kiel trainer brought on fresh wingers after the restart, but his displayed little beyond noticeable signs of physical and mental strain. Kiel were among three professional German footballing clubs forced into quarantine late last month. As a result, their make-up schedule was particularly demanding.

Following a second 45 during which Köln missed several opportunities to run up the score, Ellyes Skhiri made it 5-1 in the 84th. Match official Deniz Aytekin finally blew the full-time whistle.

Nearly 2,500 fans were allowed through the turnstiles to watch their hometown club play for the first time since October.

The spectators stood and cheered their "storks" reliably even after it long been apparent that there would be no promotion on this day.

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