Cologne - 1. FC Köln and Hannover 96 played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Saturday evening’s Matchday 22 fixture at the RheinEnergieStadion.
Hannover striker Joselu scored his first goal of the year after only five minutes, but Anthony Ujah ended his own goal drought 12 minutes later to send Köln level. The dominant hosts had the better chances after the interval, but failed to make their superiority count against a 96ers side reduced to ten men after Joao Pereira's dismissal.
Hunting a first win in 2015, Hannover burst out of the starting blocks. Joselu’s third-minute header tested Timo Horn, but the ever-present Köln custodian was powerless to stop the opener two minutes later, the Spaniard beating him at his near post from Miiko Albornoz’s inch-perfect cross. The setback, however, only encouraged the hosts to push higher and force mistakes, with Matthias Lehmann coming close after Ujah's miscontrol.
The latter was a lurking threat, and even though the hosts’ attacks were breaking down in the final third, the Nigerian was positioned perfectly to take advantage of Maurice Hirsch’s lofted backpass in the 17th minute. Salif Sane failed to clear and Ujah’s diving header beat an onrushing Ron-Robert Zieler to end Köln’s run of 363 minutes without a goal on home turf. The Billy Goats maintained their pressing, and the goalscorer twice drew good stops from Zieler before the half-hour mark.
Passive to aggressive
Hannover, although seeing more of the ball, were passive in possession, while Leonardo Bittencourt on the left was stifled entirely by the indefatigable Köln right-back Pawel Olkowski. The tense nature of the affair prior to the break limited the sides to few opportunities, the best falling to 96 centre-back Marcelo in the 40th minute from a pinpoint Lars Stindl free kick, but the Brazilian’s header was repelled comfortably by Horn.
Where the first half ended flatly, the second began explosively, as Yuya Osako came within inches of putting the hosts ahead from a tight angle. Jimmy Briand then blazed over at the other end, but it was Köln who were taking control of proceedings. Peter Stöger’s side should have had the lead in the 54th minute, with Dominic Maroh somehow putting Jonas Hector’s free kick wide from inside the six-yard box. Moments later, Pereira produced an excellent clearance to prevent Ujah going clear.
Pereira sees red
The high tempo continued as the game wore on, but the hunt for the second goal was leaving gaps defensively. Ceyhan Gülselam drew an excellent save from Horn with a 65th-minute free kick, and the midfielder should have then done better with a header from the resulting corner. Zieler was equally busy at the other end, however, denying Slawomir Peszko, Osako and Ujah in quick succession as both teams desperately threw caution to the wind.
Zieler remained the busier keeper as the game drew to a close, confidently claiming Lehmann’s powerful set piece but forced into evasive action to clear Hector’s dangerously inswinging corner five minutes from time. Despite a second yellow card for Pereira, the promoted outfit had nothing left to give, and their winless run on home soil stretched to seven games.
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