It started as a big party on the Cote d’Azur, then there were serious riots in the stadium – and in the end 1. FC Köln missed the deserved victory at the start of the Conference League with an unlucky penalty. 1. FC Köln’s first group game in the European Cup in almost five years turned into an emotional rollercoaster ride. Ultimately, the team of trainer Steffen Baumgart, who was locked in the stands, had to settle for a 1-1 (1-0) draw at OGC Nice despite a long and strong performance.
However, the impressions of the serious riots before the first conference league group game weighed more heavily than the frustration at the missed victory. In the meantime, the staging was on the brink, in the end the game started 55 minutes late at 7.40 p.m. In the event of another incident, the game would be stopped immediately, UEFA had threatened. But this one didn’t happen. According to the Nice Police Prefecture, 32 people were injured.
Steffen Tigges, who came from Dortmund in the summer, put Cologne in the lead at the break with his first competitive goal (19th) against the team of long-time Bundesliga coach Lucien Favre. Nice equalized with a hand penalty from Andy Delort (62′). Timo Hübers got the ball in the arm from a free kick in the wall.
The game will have an emotional and financial aftermath for FC because of the riots. “It wasn’t easy to focus on football again,” said regular assistant coach André Pawlak, who represented Baumgart on the sidelines. “What happened before the game is almost at a loss for words. It’s sad what happened there.”
SC Freiburg has taken the momentum from the Bundesliga to the international football stage and celebrated a successful comeback in the Europa League after nine years. The Badeners defeated the Azerbaijani champions Karabakh Agdam 2-1 (2-1) at the start of the group phase on Thursday evening. Vincenzo Grifo from the penalty spot (7th minute) and Ritsu Doan (15th) scored the goals in front of 31,500 spectators for the Bundesliga leaders, who were then neglected at times. Marko Vesovic (39th) scored for the guests.
The first 30 minutes felt like it only went in one direction. After Tural Bayramov used an arm against Matthias Ginter and a tip from the video assistant, referee Erik Lambrechts from Belgium awarded SC a penalty – and Grifo confidently hit the bottom left corner. A little later, Doan skillfully pulled in from the right wing and increased the lead to 2-0 with a low shot.
There was hardly any relief for the guests – until the Badeners slowed down a bit. Vesovic suddenly had a lot of space in front of the penalty area and scored the connection. SC keeper Mark Flekken didn’t look very good with the shot in the middle, Agdam got braver.
After the break, Flekken was there against Kwabena Owusu (47′) and two attempts by the Brazilian Kady (53′, 70′). Freiburg’s striker Nils Petersen missed a chance with his head (64th) on his debut in the season, but otherwise remained pale. Overall, the second half wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the first. There was a moment of shock for the hosts in the closing stages: a duel between Freiburg’s Kiliann Sildillia and Abdellah Zoubir in the SC penalty area was checked but not punished (81′).
1. FC Union Berlin has messed up its Europa League start. The Bundesliga soccer club lost its first group game against Royale Union Saint-Gilloise 0-1 (0-1). Senne Lynen (39th) scored the decisive goal for the Belgian runner-up from the Brussels region. Seconds before the final whistle, Union striker Sven Michel (90.6) also saw the red card. The Berliners will play their next game in Group D next Thursday (9:00 p.m.) at Sporting Braga in Portugal.