BERLIN, Germany– Cologne star Mark Uth said that the absence of fans was no excuse for throwing away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with struggling Mainz on Sunday in the Bundesliga.
“If you’re up 2-0, you have to finish things off – with or without spectators,” fumed goal-scorer Uth.
On Saturday, the Bundesliga became the first top European league to return amid the coronavirus pandemic with second-placed Borussia Dortmund hammering Schalke 4-0 in the Ruhr derby.
Later Sunday, reigning champions Bayern Munich, who hold a one-point lead in their bid to win an eighth straight league title, are at mid-table Union Berlin.
In Cologne, the hosts took an early lead when Uth, on loan from Schalke, converted a penalty with just six minutes gone after the striker was brought down in the area.
With hugs and handshakes banned, and fans excluded from the ground due to the pandemic, the players celebrated with elbow bumps instead.
Cologne added a second goal when Florian Kainz headed home a cross with just over half an hour left.
However, Mainz came roaring back with an hour played as the visitors knuckled down.
Replacement striker Taiwo Awoniyi, who had only been on for five minutes, tapped home from close range for his first Bundesliga goal.
Then Cameroon midfielder Pierre Kunde floored Cologne and earned a point for Mainz when he beat two defenders and poked the ball past goalkeeper Timo Horn to equalise on 72 minutes.
“It was like street football, a huge game for us,” said Mainz sports director Rouven Schroeder.
“For the first game after so many weeks, it was really good. The guys didn’t want to be left behind.”
The result leaves Mainz on the verge of the relegation places but four points above the bottom three while Cologne are tenth.