Thu, Dec 15, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Lukas Podolski strikes to rescue point for Cologne

AFP, BERLIN

FSV Mainz 05’s Sami Allagui, left, and Cologne’s Henrique Sereno vie for the ball in their Bundesliga match in Cologne on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Germany star Lukas Podolski hit his 14th league goal of the season on Tuesday to seal Cologne’s 1-1 draw with FSV Mainz 05 in a replayed Bundesliga match to warm up for their trip to Bayern Munich.

Cologne’s last league game of the year is in Munich tomorrow against the league leaders in a match that gives Podolski the chance to go up against his former club, where he spent three unfruitful years before returning to Cologne in 2009.

There has been a storm of interest around Podolski in the German media ever since Schalke 04 revealed their interest in signing him on Saturday, but the German hot-shot has a contract with the Rhineland club until 2013.

The 26-year-old justified the fuss to equalize against Mainz with a crisp 86th-minute strike to claim his 10th goal in his last eight league games, with the draw leaving Cologne 10th in the league.

“Mainz were clearly the better team and deserved to win, luckily for us I managed to score after all,” Podolski said. “The point we got was sheer luck.”

On Sunday, Podolski took a swipe at Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, who criticized him for a lack of consistency, but the striker said the banter between the pair had been blown out of proportion.

“No, he hasn’t apologized, I don’t even know if he has my number, otherwise I bet he would have,” Podolski said. “We like each other and this has been played up by the media.”

The original Cologne-Mainz match was canceled on Nov. 19 following the attempted suicide of referee Babak Rafati in his hotel room just hours before kickoff.

While much of the pre-match interest surrounded Podolski, the Cologne star struggled to finish his opportunities with clear chances either side of the break, which kept Mainz goalkeeper Christian Wetklo busy.

Both teams showed why they are in the middle of the table without a clear shot on goal in the first 35 minutes.

The opener came on 70 minutes when Tunisia striker Sami Allagui headed home to break his eighth-match drought for Mainz.

However, Podolski put his side level with a trademark goal from just outside the penalty area when midfielder Mato Jajalo slipped a pass to him and he blasted home his shot, which slammed off the right post and gave Wetklo no chance.

The draw leaves Mainz 12th in the table as they face fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday in their last league game before the winter break.

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