Schalke boss Domenic Tedesco was left to rue missed chances after his side let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at the Bundesliga’s bottom club Cologne.
Second-placed Schalke, hoping to take another big stride towards Champions League qualification, twice caught Cologne cold in the first half as Breel Embolo and Yevhen Konoplyanka scored after swift counter-attacks.
But Cologne hit back within three minutes of Konoplyanka’s goal through Leonardo Bittencourt and Marcel Risse smashed home a late free-kick to give their slim survival hopes a boost.
“Before the match we told ourselves we wanted to do better than against HSV,” said Tedesco on the club’s official Twitter site, referring to his side’s 3-2 defeat at Cologne’s relegation rivals Hamburg earlier this month.
“We did that at the start. We came into the match very well.
“We were 2-0 up and unfazed by the ref’s decisions. But we weren’t converting our chances. We were lacking a bit of focus.
“Which is why we’re very disappointed with the result. I believe that Cologne couldn’t have had any complaints had we won 4-1. It’s a shame that the players just couldn’t make them count.”
Schalke were a whisker away from regaining their two-goal lead when Konoplyanka crashed a shot against a post in the 29th minute and the Ukraine midfielder was twice denied by goalkeeper Timo Horn before the interval.
Franco Di Santo and Daniel Caligiuri also went close for Schalke, while defender Naldo was narrowly off target with two headers before a third was well saved by Horn.
Caligiuri also fired inches wide in the 90th minute for Schalke after Risse’s 83rd-minute equaliser.
Cologne coach Stefan Ruthenbeck, set to depart the club at the end of the season, was delighted with his side’s spirit and said that made up for any deficiencies.
“We do not defend very well against the counter-attack,” he told the club’s Twitter site. “Nevertheless, the team does not give up. It bites, struggles and compensates.”
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