Both teams went into the game in need of a positive result after midweek disappointment in Europe, but Cologne, rooted to the foot of the league table, were by far the side more in need of points. The home fans were in full voice from the off, but Cologne were noticeably nervous in the early stages, their play interspersed with errors in the face of some eye-catching attacking football from Leipzig.
Timo Horn made a series of excellent saves in the first half, but he could do nothing to stop Lukas Klosterman firing in the opener on the half-hour mark. The Billy Goats were not without their moments in attack, however, and Jhon Cordoba saw a goalbound effort blocked, before Milos Jojic sidefooted wide after a powerful run by Leonardo Bittencourt.
Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhüttl introduced Konrad Laimer and Kevin Kampl for some added security at the start of the second half, but even after Cordoba's withdrawal with what looked like a hamstring pull, the visitors' lead remained a fragile one. Cordoba's replacement, the veteran Bundesliga striker Claudio Pizarro, almost set up an equaliser with his first touch, but Bittencourt's goal was ruled out for offside.
Slowly but surely, as Cologne tired, Leipzig began to carve out chances, and by the time Yussuf Poulsen made it 2-0 with ten minutes remaining, the easterners had squandered a number of opportunities to put the game to bed. Yuya Osako headed in for the home side to ensure a tense final few minutes, but Cologne were always just out of reach and Leipzig deserved the win.
Man of the match
Had it not been for some wayward finishing, attacking midfielder Bruma might have claimed a hatful of goals and assists for Leipzig. A blur of pace and movement throughout, the Cologne defence could not get near the Portugal U-21 international, who drew a series of saves from the goalkeeper.
- Cologne scored their first goal in 522 minutes of football.
- Yussuf Poulsen's goal was his first in the Bundesliga this season.
- Claudio Pizarro came off the bench for the 118th time in the Bundesliga. Only Mike Hanke (122) and Mehmet Scholl (123) have appeared from the substitutes' bench more often.
- At half-time, the shot count read 9-14, a record for the season so far.
Cologne: T. Horn - Klünter (Höger 87'), Sörensen (Handwerker 68') , Heintz, Rausch - Özcan, Lehmann - Jojic, Osako, Bittencourt - Cordoba (Pizarro 54')
Coach: Peter Stöger
Leipzig: Gulacsi - Klostermann, Konate (Kampl 46'), Upamecano, Halstenberg - Ilsanker, Demme (Laimer 46') - Sabitzer, Forsberg, Bruma (Bernardo 90') - Poulsen
Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Watch: Claudio Pizarro gives his thoughts on making an unexpected return to Bundesliga action