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Draw with Nice not enough for Cologne in UEFA Europa League

Draw with Nice not enough for Cologne in UEFA Europa League

Berlin,  Cologne came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Nice, but were still eliminated from the UEFA Europa League. The Billy Goats started brightly on home soil, knowing that only a win could put them through.

Cologne came close twice in the opening stages but Nice goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was on guard and denied Sargis Adamyan in quick succession on Thursday night. Nice defended deep and lurked for counterattacking opportunities, while Steffen Tigges tested Schmeichel with a dangerous header at the half-hour mark.

The visitors from France eventually came to life in the closing stages of the first half and flabbergasted Cologne with two quick goals, reports Xinhua. Gaetan Laborde broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 40th minute after finishing off a fast break, before Billal Brahimi benefitted from a turnover to make it two three minutes later.

Cologne came out with all guns blazing after the restart as Schmeichel denied Adamyan with a great reflex early on. Schmeichel was hapless though moments later after Denis Huseinbasic slotted home from a tight angle to halve the deficit in the 48th minute.

The hosts pressed frenetically for more goals and got rewarded for their efforts as Ondrej Duda made the most of Huseinbasic's cutback to beat Schmeichel at the hour mark. Steffen Baumgart's men thought they had turned the tide with the next play, but Adamyan tapped home from an offside position.

Cologne remained on the front foot and started an onslaught on Nice's goal, but the visitors' defence stood firm to see the French side progress into the next round.

"I am proud. The boys responded well and showed heart after the Nice's two quick goals. We are of course disappointed, but we didn't play smartly enough. We showed great mentality and will, but we must be more clinical in front of goal," said Baumgart.

Meanwhile, there was no surprise for Fenerbahce as they beat Dynamo Kyiv 2-0 to seal first place in Group B of the UEFA Europa League.

Dynamo started the game very well as they tried to take the initiative. However, in the 23rd minute, 17-year-old Arda Guler put Fenerbahce in front. Dynamo keeper Georgiy Buschan left the line to punch the ball after a cross, but he collided with a defender, allowing Guler to volley home into an unguarded net.

The referee used VAR to check whether Enner Valencia was offside in the earlier stage of the action, but after a moment of suspense, the Turkish team could celebrate scoring the opener.

The favourites should have doubled the lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, as Valencia rounded the keeper, but he was not able to put it into the net from a tight angle.

Just before the break, the hosts made another defensive mistake, and this time they paid for it. Dynamo left Willian Arao unmarked in the penalty area, and the Brazilian midfielder's header at the near post allowed Fenerbahce to make it 2-0 just before the break.

Fenerbahce thus topped Group B with 14 points, followed by French side Rennes. Dynamo finished bottom of the group with just one point from six games.

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