Europa Conference League
⚽ F. Diabaté (15), ⚽ R. Gomes (52)
By Ultan Corcoran @UltanCorcoran
Having narrowly lost their first UEFA Conference League game last Thursday, Koln left the cathedral city behind them for Belgrade, as return meeting with Partizan loomed. The Serbian side, sat top of their domestic league, won by a goal last time out but Baumgart’s Koln came with revenge in mind. The only noticeable absentee on the Effzeh side being Dejan Ljubicic who misses the remainder of 2022 through injury. Revenge never came in the end as an untypically out-of-sync Koln fell to a 2-0 defeat.
|Benno Schmitz.||Photo: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 4.0|
Koln’s Skhiri and Partizan’s Diabate exchanged early opportunities drawing saves at either end inside the opening 10 minutes. Five minutes later Koln had fallen behind in very unfortunate circumstances. Timo Huebers failed clearance allowed the lively Diabate to capitalise and duly finished beyond Schwabe. As Dietz failed to swivel on goal, UEFA officials signalled for a break in play while Partizan fans’ pyrotechnic smoke cleared.
Play soon resumed but the game was disturbed again moments later as further smoke descended. Both teams sent to the safety of the players’ tunnel by arbiter Roy Reinshreiber. Action restarted on 38 minutes while the clock kept ticking. Even though Koln were comfortable in possession they left a lot to be desired in an attacking sense. Partizan’s only threat came late in the half, however Soldo did brilliantly to deny Ricardo Gomes a potential tap-in had the ball reached him. Ten minutes of added time, and while Partizan’s Menig rattled the crossbar, the Serbian side remained 1-0 up at the interval.
To Koln’s dismay, Partizan doubled their lead within six minutes of the restart. A scramble resulting from a corner allowed captain Urosevic to veer clear of several Koln players and dig out a cross to the back post where Ricardo Gomes lay in wait. The Cape Verdean rose above Soldo and Pedersen to power his header home.
Baumgart made several substitutions as the second half wore on. Sargis Adamyan had a relatively quiet night and was replaced by Linton Maina, who perhaps should have started given his performances against Slovacko. Huseinbasic was afforded time to turn the game around as he came on for Pedersen. Koln never really got going in the end and desperately lacked the creative minerals as was the case in the first half. Effzeh’s first real second half chance came on 84 minutes. Kainz and Hector combined well down the left to cross for Tigges. Partizan keeper Popovic had other ideas as his deft flick directed the ball away to safety. The Serbian side ran out comfortable 2-0 victors as the full-time whistle sounded.