Cologne can scent survival after holding Schalke to draw
Marcel Risse’s late free-kick earned the bottom club a point.
Marcel Risse’s late free-kick earned bottom club Cologne a point from a 2-2 home draw against high-flying Schalke to keep slim survival hopes alive.
Midfielder Risse struck in the closing stages to complete an impressive fightback for Cologne, who went 2-0 down in the first half.
Goals from Breel Embolo and Yevhen Konoplyanka put Schalke in early control before Cologne hit back through Leonardo Bittencourt soon after.
Victory would have edged second-placed Schalke even closer to a Champions League place, while Cologne are now eight points from the relegation play-off place with three games left to play.
Cologne made the worst possible start as they were caught cold by a breakaway goal in the fourth minute when Embolo turned home Konoplyanka’s assist from close range.
Konoplyanka threatened twice more for Schlake soon after and although Cologne responded through Salih Ozcan, who fired wide after his initial header had been blocked, the home side were undone again by another swift counter.
This time Konoplyanka was on the end of a flowing Schalke move, racing into the penalty area on the left and shooting low across Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn into the opposite corner to put the visitors 2-0 up in the 23rd minute.
But Stefan Ruthenbeck’s side refused to buckle and showed character to force themselves back into the game within three minutes.
Left-back Jonas Hector supplied the final pass and midfielder Bittencourt finished in style with an angled low drive into the bottom corner.
Schalke were a whisker away from regaining their two-goal lead when Konoplyanka crashed a shot against a post in the 29th minute and the Ukraine midfielder was twice denied by Horn before the interval.
Konoplyanka fizzed another effort just wide soon after the restart and Cologne were indebted to Horn again when he kept out Guido Burgstaller’s low shot from outside the area.
Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann saved Cologne forward Simon Terodde’s header, but Schalke mounted pressure and looked more likely to add another goal.
Konoplyanka, Franco Di Santo and Daniel Caligiuri all went close for the visitors, while defender Naldo was narrowly off target with two headers before a third was well saved by Horn.
But against the run of play Cologne conjured up an equaliser. Naldo was penalised for his foul on Terodde and Risse slammed home his free-kick into the centre of goal.
Caligiuri fired inches wide in the 90th minute for Schalke, but Domenico Tedesco’s side had to settle for a point.