Kiel beats Cologne in first leg of Bundesliga playoff

Kiel's Simon Lorenz, centre, celebrates after with teammates after scoring during the Bundesliga relegation match between FC Cologne and Holstein Kiel at the Rhein-Energie-Stadion in Cologne, Germany, Wednesday, May 25, 2021. (Rolf Vennenbernd/Pool photo via AP)

COLOGNE, Germany — Cologne edged a step closer to Bundesliga relegation with a 1-0 loss at home to Holstein Kiel in the first leg of their playoff on Wednesday.

Kiel substitute Simon Lorenz scored what could be a vital away goal in the 59th minute to give the second-division team the advantage ahead of their second leg on Saturday.

Cologne, which finished third from bottom in the Bundesliga thanks to a 1-0 win over Schalke in the last round, created more chances against Kiel but failed to make them count.

Ondrej Duda came closest in the first half just before the break. Kiel's Aleksandar Ignjovski was fortunate to get just a yellow card for a dangerous challenge on the Slovakian midfielder minutes before.

The yellow cards continued to come as the second half began in a rough manner, and Cologne kept pushing for the opener.

But Kiel scored against the run of play through Lorenz seconds after he came on as a substitute. Lee Jae-sung headed a corner back into the danger area where Lorenz rose above Jonas Hector to head it in.

Kiel already missed two chances to secure automatic promotion as one of the top two teams in the second division. Ole Werner's side -— which knocked Bayern Munich out of the German Cup earlier in the season _- lost 3-2 at Karlsruher SC in the penultimate round, then followed up with a 3-2 loss at home to Darmstadt in Sunday's last round. It finished third as Bochum and Greuther Furth were promoted.

Werder Bremen, which was relegated from the Bundesliga with Schalke this season, won the playoff on the away goals rule against Heidenheim last year.

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