In a game which started out with a whimper, Julian Nagelsmann’s charge ended it with a bang. RB Leipzig dispatched FC Köln with a 4-2 victory, with a frantic second half that saw three goals from both teams over the course of ten minutes.
Köln happened to score first, as Colombian striker Jhon Córdoba capitalized on a breakdown in defending by Leipzig. The start of this breakdown was triggered by captain Marcel Sabitzer, in a very unfamiliar defensive midfield role, switching off and allowing his mark into the box uncontested. While this did not immediately result in the goal, the following struggle to adjust and scramble allowed Córdoba to maximize the chaos and being in perfect position to open up the tally. In fact, Córdoba looked more than up to the task of going after the Leipzig defense until he suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury only minutes after scoring. With confusion reigning regarding the severity, Köln were periodically reduced to ten men, and during one of those spells Leipzig equalized.
With Köln’s wings clipped the march back from Leipzig began. Fresh after netting thanks to some timely butterfingers, Patrik Schick needed no such help on Monday. Schick equalized off a picture perfect cross from Angeliño and Leipzig never looked back. Once more on the front foot and dominating possession and attacking chances, Köln were unable to match the speed and precision showcased by Leipzig. Eighteen minutes after Schick equalized, Christopher Nkunku put Leipzig ahead thanks to a pass from Laimer which caused the Köln defense to bite at just the right time. Sneaking past the hapless defender, Nkunku cooly sent the ball into the net. The rapid swing sent both teams into the half with Leipzig up and in the driver’s seat.
The beginning of the second half saw plenty of fireworks as goals came quick and fast during the first fifteen minutes after play resumed. Timo Werner continued his goal scoring blitz after a fantastically placed ball from Leipzig keeper Péter Gulácsi found Werner with acres of space ahead of him and no one around. One on one in front of the Köln net and Timo made no mistake, finishing one of the more complete counterattacks of the game and one of few direct goalkeeper to outfielder assists in the Bundesliga this season. Köln stayed in it, minutes later reducing the deficit to 2-3 on a thunderous strike outside the box from substitute forward Anthony Modeste. Of all things it perhaps highlighted the still pressing issues of marking that Leipzig’s defense hasn’t sorted fully since the return to play. However, this concession was wiped out almost immediately as young Dani Olmo scored his first Bundesliga goal for Leipzig. Olmo was brought in midseason to bolster the attacking wings, although until now he had only previously scored in the German Cup.
Play leveled off after this, a few notes to include would be Tyler Adams coming on to play his preferred defensive midfield position later on and the return of Emil Forsberg to the field, who had missed the past few games due to injury.
The performance of the match came from former NYCFC man Angeliño however. Köln had absolutely no response to the Spaniard thrashing down the left flank from the left fullback position. Any cover shifted to him looked immediately overmatched, and it showed. It is hard to believe, but the teenager who suited up on the opposing side in the third ever Hudson River Derby is now an indispensable loanee for RB Leipzig and has truly entered into his own. One of the best runs of the match happened just prior to the halftime whistle when Angeliño took on the entire left side of the Köln defense by himself and still managed to send a fantastic chip from inside the box that Schick just barely misplayed with his head.
Leipzig next move to face the bottom of the league SC Paderborn, who haven’t won a game since January 25th and are 8 points from the relegation playoffs. Paderborn lost the first fixture of the season in a 3-2 November meeting.
Leipzig also will get nearly an entire week’s rest after so many short notice games, something the club must be looking forward to. If Forsberg is back to full health, this might be as good a game as any to return him to full time and should serve as a test for breaking down another bunker. With Leipzig still only two points ahead in the race of a UCL spot, every point counts.
We’re back to nice and early games, so be sure to check out Leipzig and Paderborn at 9:30 EST on Saturday, June 6th. The game is being broadcast on either FS2 or TUDN. As always, be sure to check your local listings.