Cologne scored four goals in one match for the first time this season with a 4-2 trouncing of Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen edged out Paderborn with a 3-0 win.
The Billy Goats had only scored five times at home over the previous 23 league games, but a late salvo with three goals in 10 second-half minutes secured a vital win for a side on the fringes of the relegation battle.
As aggressive and direct as the first battles turned to be, neither side had the composure to pick a pass in the final-third, and the game had the vibe of an end-of-season clash. The first attempt on goal took 19 minutes to arrive and it was an audacious 30-yard strike from Marcel Risse that cleared the crossbar by several inches.
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Ten minutes later, the home side eventually led from the front – the ball was kicked-out by Timo Horn, missed by both Deyverson and Anthony Ujah who attempted to win the aerial ball. But third time lucky, the former calmly chipped the ball over the on-rushing Kevin Trapp to score his first league goal for Cologne.
The 23-year-old Brazilian contended with Frankfurt’s antagonistic Carlos Zambrano, with the striker later picking up a caution after several fouls in the space of a few minutes. As the half drew to a close, Ujah was presented with the best chance of the match, but Trapp denied the striker from close range.
Frankfurt started the half with a spring in their step and took 13 minutes to achieve parity. Bastian Oczipka combined with Lucas Piazon on the left, the on-loan Chelsea winger driving the ball across goal for Meier to score at the second attempt.
Ujah passed up a brilliant chance just 60 seconds later – but the Billy Goats would power ahead in the last 20 minutes with Frankfurt’s defense all over the shop.
On 72 minutes, Risse popped up to slam a low shot past Trapp before five minutes later, substitute Yuya Osako ran clean through on goal and slotted into the bottom corner.
Nigerian striker Ujah drilled home 11 minutes from the end – and marked his goal by sharing a moment by Hennes the Billy Goat, Cologne’s club mascot.
With the points secured for the hosts, Meier’s second goal – his 18th goal of the season – came from the spot in stoppage time after Kevin Wimmer was shown a straight red card.
Sunday’s second match simply wouldn’t come close to the previous encounter as Leverkusen struggled to conjure up a chance until Kyriakos Papadopolous headed in the first of two goals with 17 minutes to play.
Leverkusen was without Hakan Calhanoglu for the trip to Paderborn – and Roger Schmidt’s men looked devoid of creativity as the Turkish free-kick specialist sat glum-faced in the stands. Paderborn, one of the two promoted clubs to the Bundesliga this season, had met Leverkusen once before with the point shared between the sides. The last affair was an enthralling 2-2 draw in October, yet the return clash would be nothing of the sorts.
Leverkusen’s best effort of the first half was feeble, to say the least. South Korean Son Heung-Min smashed the ball over the crossbar from 35 yards to the frustration of his team-mates in the 38th minute.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Bernd Leno was active, diving at the feet of Moritz Stoppelkamp to prevent the attacker from dribbling past the German keeper. Leno turned Alban Meha’s free-kick wide of the post soon after as the teams ended the half without a goal.
Determined to add to his single Bundesliga goal this season, Stefan Kutschke threw himself at everything, the striker unable to threaten before the break. But on 58 minutes, the center-forward was presented with the clearest chance of the match; the flick-on from Stoppelkamp at a corner-kick evading the striker by a few inches with the goal gaping.
The zenith of Leverkusen’s afternoon for the best part was set to come from the side – the club was drawn against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the DFB Pokal – until the 73rd minute. With Calhanoglu missing, Gonzalo Castro’s took charge of free-kick responsibilities and delivered superbly for the powerful Greek defender Papadopolous who directed the ball past Kruse.
Leverkusen’s points were sealed, and their Champions League ambitions boosted, seven minutes from the end when Julian Brandt picked out Castro inside the box. The midfielder recorded his second assist of the match, laying the ball off to Son who then cushioned a neat finish past Kruse from close-range.
While Leverkusen nudges Schalke and Augsburg out of the fourth Champions League spot, Paderborn are still one of the three clubs occupying relegation positions after Matchday 24.