Julian Nagelsmann opted for two switches to his Leipzig line-up following the 2:4 win over Hertha BSC two weeks ago. Yussuf Poulsen and Nordi Mukiele dropped out injured, as Christopher Nkunku and Marcel Halytenberg came in the starting team.
Markus Gisdol switched to a 4-3-3 and made four changes from the FC side that lost to Hoffenheim before the international break. In came Marco Höger, Birger Verstraete, Kingsley Schindler and Anthony Modeste came into the line-up for Jorge Meré, Louis Schaub, Simon Terodde and Jhon Cordoba.
FC began the game with promise. Despite Leipzig having more of the ball, Gisdol’s side were keen to come forward with pace. That resulted in Birger Verstraete crossing from the right hand side to Ismail Jakobs, but his headed effort was off target. Dayot Upamecano registered Leipzig’s first shot at goal, though that too wasn’t able to trouble Timo Horn.
As the half wore on, things were beginning to get more difficult for FC. Diego Demme fired over from the edge of the box with a well-struck volley, before Christopher Nkunku’s cut-back wasn’t pounced upon by a Leipzig player. However, as the ball was lost out on the left-hand side, Nkunku managed to find Timo Werner in the middle and he lifted his shot over the oncoming Timo Horn.
Despite things stabilising for Gisdol’s side in the minutes after the goal, things got worse for FC. Kingsley Ehizibue ran alongside Christopher Nkunku, and the pair had their legs tangle. Robert Schröder wasted no time in pointing to the penalty spot. Emil Forsberg slotted home, even though Timo Horn went the right way. Five minutes later, Leipzig made it three when Konrad Laimer fired home from 20 yards out – picking out the very top corner.
However, there was a just less than 120 seconds afterwards from FC. Birger Verstraete’s corner was perfectly whipped onto the six yard box, and Rafael Czichos leapt highest to head home past Peter Gulacsi. The final few minutes of the half proved to be uneventful, with Gisdol’s men clinging onto that late glimmer of hope before the break.
Leipzig came out of the blocks strong in the second half and almost had a second goal. Timo Horn, however, managed to save well from Nkunku’s close range effort before Czichos scrambled the ball to safety. Horn had to be alert again moments later, as the Frenchman’s dipping drive was cleared by the FC stopper at the second time of asking.
Before the hour mark, Florian Kainz and Marcel Risse were on in a bid to give a new lease of life in the wide areas. Timo Werner fired over from 12 yards in one of many Leipzig chances, but that finally seemed to wake FC up in an attacking sense. Anthony Modeste headed over from 14 yards after a fine chipped pass while free in the box.
FC continued to come forward as Simon Terodde’s introduction gave some support to Modeste up front. Jonas Hector and Florian Kainz both had strong shots deflected over, before Sebastiaan Bornauw headed over from a corner. Unfortunately, for Markus Gisdol a strong second-half went without reward and, instead, it was an Emil Forsberg free-kick that sealed the game for Leipzig.
FC are next in action at home to FC Augsburg on Saturday at the RheinEnergieSTADION.
Leipzig (4-4-2): Gulacsi – Klostermann, Ilsanker, Upamecano, Halstenberg (Saracchi 82‘) – Sabitzer, Laimer, Demme, Forsberg (Haidara 81‘) – Nkunku (Schick 76‘), Werner.
1. FC Köln (4-3-3): Horn – Ehizibue, Bornauw, Czichos, Hector – Skhiri (Kainz 46‘), Höger (Terodde 70‘), Verstraete – Schindler (Risse 59‘), Modeste, Jakobs.
Goals: 1:0, Werner 22’. 2:0, Forsberg PEN 32’. 3:0, Laimer 37’. 3:1, Czichos 39’. 4:1, Forsberg 79’.
Referee: Robert Schröder (Hannover).
Booked: Kainz (66’), Verstraete (86’), Terodde (89’).