Köln took revenge on Bayer Leverkusen for their win in the reverse fixture to take the glory in the clash of the Rhine neighbours and damage Leverkusen’s hopes of a possible top four finish. Two goals from Davie Selke either side of an Amine Adli equaliser in the first half saw the Billy Goats take all three points. Here are five takeaways from Friday’s derby, which is not officially a derby.
1. The run comes to an end
Bayer Leverkusen’s run of 14 unbeaten games stretching back some 75 days came to an end at the Bay Arena in only Xabi Alonso’s third home defeat since taking charge. The loss will hurt, but the fact that it came against local rivals Köln will hurt even more. The loss is also not exactly the ideal preparation for their midweek trip to Italy to face Roma in the first-leg of their Europa League semi-final.
2. More haste, less speed
It was a below-par performance from the Werkself, who for large parts of the game were rushing and not fully getting their quick transition game into full effect. Apart from the goal that was classic Leverkusen, Köln were not overly challenged defensively by the home side’s usual devastating attack at pace. Florian Wirtz tried a few too many fancy flicks, while Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby were a little off colour.
3. Sales of Kölsch will rise this weekend
7500 Köln fans made the short thirty minute trip across the Rhein and they were rewarded with a win that will see them enjoying the bragging rights this weekend. They made their presence felt with a superb atmosphere throughout and also made their displeasure felt about the short notice given when the DFL moved the match to tonight. A barrage of tennis balls were launched onto the pitch at the start of the second half to make their point. With all weekend free now to celebrate their win, the sales of Kölsch beer will surely be up this weekend.
4. Köln are going to miss Jonas Hector
The news of Jonas Hector’s retirement at the end of the season is slowly sinking in amongst Köln fans, but tonight they saw a performance that highlighted just how much they are going to miss their talismanic captain.
The left-back was up against a highly potent and pacey Leverkusen right-hand side in Frimpong and Diaby and he won the duel to help his side to victory by blunting their attacks. Frimpong in particular had a quiet game and that was largely down to Hector’s intelligent positional play. The transfer ban that currently hangs over the club means that they won’t even be allowed to bring in a potential replacement- but then how do you start to replace a player like Jonas Hector?5
5. Davie Selke can be a real striker
It would be fair to say that Davie Selke has promised much in his career so far, but failed to really deliver at any of his clubs. At Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin and RB Leipzig he hasn’t scored the goals on a regular basis and while looking the part and getting involved in the build-up, he’s not got the stats of a proven goalscorer.
Two goals tonight showed that in the classic number nine role with he right service he could finally be ready to fulfil the potential that so many people have seen. A classic header and a good finish from a precision cross saw him bag a brace and be the match-winner for Steffen Baumgart, who is looking for a striker to fill the gap left by the departure of Anthony Modeste. At 28, he’s no spring chicken, but in Köln and Baumgart he may have found the ideal home.