Augsburg beats Mainz to ensure Bundesliga survival
BERLIN (AP) Schalke put one foot in the Champions League next season while leaving Cologne on the brink of Bundesliga relegation with a 2-2 draw in a thunderstorm on Sunday.
Host Cologne needed a win to keep alive any realistic hopes of survival but Breel Embolo scored for Schalke after just four minutes as the rain poured down and Yevhen Konoplyanka added a second as conditions worsened.
Cologne captain Jonas Hector set up Leonardo Bittencourt’s goal minutes later but Schalke kept control of the game until Marcel Risse raised hopes of a fairytale ending when he equalized with a fierce free kick in the 84th minute.
It was as good as it got for Cologne, now eight points from safety with three games remaining and the worst goal difference in the league.
Schalke consolidated second place, seven points clear of fifth-place Hoffenheim. The top four qualify for the Champions League and Domenico Tedesco’s side needs to win one of its remaining three games to be sure of reaching Europe’s premier competition.
Cologne had shown signs of life in recent games but the damage was done earlier in the season when it lost 13 of its opening 16 games before claiming its first win at the 17th attempt.
New coach Stefan Ruthenbeck was unable to undo the damage and he will not be with the team next season. Cologne has already announced that Markus Anfang will join from promotion-chasing Holstein Kiel. Anfang is also German for ”start” and Cologne is already banking on a fresh one.
Augsburg beat Mainz 2-0 to ensure its Bundesliga survival and leave the visitors in danger.
Goalkeeper Rene Adler prevented a bigger defeat for Mainz, which remains on 30 points. Mainz is immediately ahead of Freiburg in the relegation zone on goal difference, and behind 14th-place Wolfsburg, also on goal difference.
Hamburger SV is five points behind in an automatic relegation place.