Leverkusen wins Rhine derby to ease pressure on Xabi Alonso


Moussa Diaby of Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Jonas Hector of 1. FC Koln during the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Koln and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the RheinEnergieStadion on November 9, 2022 in Cologne, Germany.

Moussa Diaby scored again as Bayer Leverkusen came from behind to beat Cologne 2-1 in their Rhine derby on Wednesday, giving coach Xabi Alonso his second successive Bundesliga win. 

The French winger, who wasn’t included in Didier Deschamps’ 25-man squad for the World Cup, scored Leverkusen’s winner in the 71st minute when he applied the finishing touch to a counterattack started by Callum Hudson-Odoi after a Cologne corner. 

The home team had been better for much of the game. Benno Schmitz scored Cologne’s goal on the half-hour mark when he took Sargis Adamyan’s cross on his chest on the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a perfect volley to send the ball inside the left post.

Leverkusen struggled to mount any threat until Alonso made three changes at once with half an hour remaining. One of the substitutes, Nadiem Amiri, equalized in the 65th when his free kick took a decisive deflection off a Cologne defender before going in.

The visitors made it 2-1 six minutes later when Diaby kept the ball in play on the sideline, then raced forward to receive a return pass from Jeremie Frimpong – who had made a run down the right – to score his fifth league goal of the season and his third in two games. 

It’s the first time this season Leverkusen has strung together two consecutive wins after its 5-0 rout of then-leader Union Berlin on Sunday. Also Wednesday, Union was held 2-2 at home by Augsburg, though it moved second on goal difference from Freiburg, which lost 3-1 in Leipzig.

Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku, who was included in France’s World Cup squad, scored one and was involved in both other goals to help Leipzig move fifth, ahead of Borussia Dortmund on goal difference.

Randal Kolo Muani, another French player enjoying a stellar season, scored in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 4-2 win over Hoffenheim. That victory took Frankfurt fourth, a point ahead of Leipzig and Dortmund, which lost 2-0 at Wolfsburg on Tuesday. Simon Terodde’s early goal was enough for Schalke to end its eight-game run of defeats including the German Cup with a 1-0 win over Mainz.

 Schalke had lost every game beginning with a 1-0 loss at Dortmund in the Ruhr derby since a 3-1 win over Bochum on Sept. 10, its only other Bundesliga win of the season so far. The Gelsenkirchen-based club remains last. 

Ten-time defending champion Bayern Munich stretched its lead to four points with a 6-1 rout of Werder Bremen on Tuesday. One round remains at the weekend before the league’s extended two-month winter break to accommodate the World Cup.

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