Cologne squandered a two-goal lead and had to sweat to rescue a point in their 2-2 draw with visitors Mainz 05 on Sunday in their first Bundesliga game back after a two-month suspension due to the COVID-19 virus.
Cologne, looking for their fourth straight league win, thought they had wrapped up the match played without spectators after early goals in each half.
Despite the lack of fans, Cologne had some support as about 1,300 season-ticket holders sent in their favourite club items -- team shirts, scarves or stuffed animals -- which were draped over the empty seats.
"We asked #effzeh fans if they wanted to hand over their lucky scarf or kit to be placed in the stadium for the upcoming games. It’s not the same as you being there and it never will be, but thank you, " FC Koln tweeted.
We asked #effzeh fans if they wanted to hand over their lucky scarf or kit to be placed in the stadium for the upcoming games. It’s not the same as you being there and it never will be, but thank you ❤️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/oRbXOKSerp — 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) May 17, 2020
Mark Uth converted a sixth-minute penalty he won himself and Florian Kainz headed in a perfect Dominick Drexler cross at the far post in the 52nd minute.
But Mainz, led by former Cologne coach Achim Beierlorzer, cut the deficit through Taiwo Awoniyi in the 61st and levelled 11 minutes later thanks to Kunde Malong's 30-metre solo run and fine finish from inside the box. They also went close to scoring a third in the final minutes.
Cologne remained 10th in the standings on 33 points while Mainz moved four points above the relegation playoff spot.
Leaders Bayern Munich, top on 55 points, play Union Berlin later on Sunday. Borussia Dortmund are a point behind after Saturday's 4-0 victory over Schalke 04.
The Bundesliga on Saturday became the first major league in the world to restart amid the pandemic.
A set of strict health regulations are governing the matches, including a ban on spectators in or around the stadiums to minimise the risk of infection.(With inputs from Reuters)