- Rudnevs’ first-half goal cancelled out by Gnabry.
- Bremen with six-point cushion on automatic relegation.
- Köln drop points for fourth consecutive game.
SV Werder Bremen put real daylight between themselves and the relegation quagmire, battling back from goal down to earn a 1-1 draw with European aspirants 1. FC Köln at the Weser Stadium on Saturday.
Goals: 0-1 Rudnevs (28’), 1-1 Gnabry 40’)
Köln began the day seven places and nine points better off than their hosts and they dominated possession early in the first half, taking the lead inside the opening half-hour when Anthony Modeste’s shot squirmed under Jaroslav Drobny’s body, leaving Rudnevs with a tap-in. Bremen returned fire with half-time approaching, though, when Gnabry’s swerving attempt from the edge of the box deceived Thomas Kessler in the visiting goal. Bremen were inches away from taking a lead into the interval, but Kessler saved from Gnabry before touching Claudio Pizarro’s follow-up effort onto the joint of the goal.
Köln left-back Dominique Heinz stung Drobny’s gloves minutes into the second half before Kessler had to react quickly to turn a Fin Bartels volley around the post at the other end soon after. In an end-to-end half-hour, Yuya Osako then fizzed a shot narrowly wide after a powerful run from Rudnevs. Bremen ended the game having completed 20 per cent more passes than Köln, but they couldn’t find a winner as it ended 1-1.
Man of the match
Gnabry has been a revelation since joining Bremen from Arsenal FC in the summer. The recent Germany cap has the ability to dribble past his opponent and shoot from range, leaving his marker perennially unsure of how close to stick to him. It led to the equalising goal on Saturday, and promises to deliver many more for Bremen as the season progresses.
Bremen have now picked up eight points in their last four games, with the most recent of those successes coming against European aspirants Hertha Berlin and now Köln. Finally clicking into gear under coach Alexander Nouri, the northern giants now have a six-point cushion on the automatic relegation places, and look capable of mounting a top-six challenge of their own.
- Rudnevs has scored two goals in December alone. His last Bundesliga goal came for previous employers Hamburger SV in a 3-2 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach back in February.
- Gnabry’s goal was his sixth of the season. He has scored more than Bremen’s next three highest scorers put together.
- Werder have scored at least once in each of their last 20 home games - their longest such run in nearly 16 years.
Bremen: Drobny - Bauer, Sane, Moisander, Garcia - Fritz (c) (Junuzovic 46’), Bargfrede - Bartels, Gnabry - Kruse, Pizarro (Johannsson 75’)
Coach: Alexander Nouri
Köln: Kessler - Sörensen, Mavraj, Heintz - Höger, Hector (c)- Olkowski, Rausch - Osako – Modeste (Guirassy 81’), Rudnevs (Zoller 81’)
Coach: Peter Stöger
Watch: Gnabry thought a tactical shift helped Bremen hold Köln: