Football Features

Kunde leads spirited Karnevalsverein comeback: Five things learned from FC Köln 2-2 Mainz 05

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 16:38, 17 May 2020

FC Köln snatched a 2-2 draw from the jaws of victory against Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga this afternoon.

The Billy Goats were cruising to another home victory after establishing a 2-0 lead through efforts from Mark Uth and Florian Kainz but spectacularly took their foot off the gas.

Second-half substitute Taiwo Awoniyi and Pierre Kunde struck inside an 11-minute period to turn the game on its head and secure the visitors a hard-fought point on the road.

With the dust beginning to settle, here are five things we learned from this encounter…

1. Home discomfort

Home hasn’t always been sweet for FC Köln this season. They would lose their opening three games at the RheinEnergieStadion before registering a 3-0 win over Paderborn; one point from six available followed, before embarking on their best run in a long time. Prior to Mainz’s visit, Markus Gisdol’s men had notched five wins from six, with the only setback being a 1-4 loss to champions Bayern Munich; this form has been pivotal to a recent surge up the championship table.

Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Freiburg and Schalke 04 – all above Köln in the table – were among their victims. The chances of relegation-threatened Mainz leaving with a result looked slim before kick-off. More so when you consider they had lost five of their last seven away trips, shipping 20 goals in the process. But this is the beauty of football. Just when it looked like another regulation three points, a spirited Mainz proved observers wrong.

A sixth win across seven home outings would have seen Köln move to within touching distance of playing in Europe next season. Those ambitions must be put on hold for the time being.

2. A continuing trend…

It was always going to be an uphill struggle for Mainz this afternoon. Despite suffering just one defeat across their previous five Bundesliga games before matchday 26, in which they boosted their survival chances, they’ve been less than stellar on the road against those sitting inside the top ten.

This was their eighth meeting against such a team. In the previous seven they mustered a single victory while losing the rest. Although this was yet another contest that saw Mainz leave without a win, the nature of this result will not upset manager Achim Beierlorzer too much, even if at one point it seemed they’d do no better than mustering just one shot on target.

3. Better late than never

A curious statistic heading into the Bundesliga’s resumption concerned Köln, who happened to be the only side yet to win a spot kick this season. That wait ended in the opening salvo of this game when Moussa Niakhaté was judged to have brought down Mark Uth, and the on-loan centre-forward didn’t need a second invitation from 12 yards when he narrowly converted past Florian Müller.

Schalke’s loss has certainly been Köln’s gain. Since returning to his hometown club, where he began his professional career, Uth has either scored or assisted in each of his first eight Bundesliga appearances since joining. A feat that hasn’t befallen a Köln player since the 2004/05 season began. His fifth effort of the season for The Billy Goats now leaves him five behind leading scorer Jhon Córdoba.

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4. Kunde shines bright

As a former Atlético Madrid academy graduate, the chances of breaking into Diego Simeone’s first team, considering the plethora of central midfielders at his disposal, looked remote for Pierre Kunde, who has since reinvented himself in Germany following loan spells at Extremadura and Granada. In what proved to be a challenging game for the visitors, he came out of this contest with his reputation growing even further,

Kunde, operating alongside West Ham loanee Edmilson Fernandes, in a midfield double pivot, made no fewer than 52 passes while completing seven take-ons, both metrics eclipsing any of those in Mainz’s front six. But most importantly he levelled proceedings after seeing his team go 2-0 down. Kunde’s goal was a spectacular piece of individual brilliance, driving through the heart of Köln’ defence, before coolly slotting past Timo Horn.

5. At both ends of the spectrum

Dominick Drexler turned pro in 2010 aged 20 while representing Rot-Weiß Erfurt but would have to wait a further decade before tasting Bundesliga football. Having once been on Bayer Leverkusen’s books, this is quite remarkable. That being said, he’s grabbed his opportunity at Köln with both hands. Not a guaranteed first-team starter, Drexler – like across his previous three league appearances – began on the bench. Köln boss Markus Gisdol saw it wasn’t happening for teenage winger Jan Thielmann and made the switch after half-time.

The move proved inspired as Drexler’s first-time whipped cross was nodded home by Florian Kainz eight minutes after his introduction. As soon as that went in Beierlorzer introduced 22-year-old Taiwo Awoniyi – on loan from Liverpool – and the Nigerian marksman halved Mainz’s deficit, a well-worked move that saw a neat through ball from Robin Quaison ended with Awoniyi tapping-in Ridle Baku’s pass. A moment the youngster will not forget as it happened to also be his first Bundesliga goal.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why Mainz refer to Awoniyi a ‘Joker’ in several social media posts, its a sporting term in Germany defined “as a substitute who comes on and scores.”


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