Bayer Leverkusen's Bundesliga title hopes were extinguished this afternoon with defeat at local rivals Cologne. A second-half double from Milivoje Novakovic did the damage for Leverkusen with Borussia Dortmund confirmed as champions thanks to this loss and their own victory over Nurnberg.
Leverkusen trail the leaders by eight points with two matches remaining. However, victory for Cologne under coach Volker Finke, who took over after Frank Schaefer stepped down during the week, was vital in their fight against relegation and took them four points clear of the bottom three.
Chances were few and far between in the first half, although Leverkusen had the best opportunity in the 24th minute when Michael Ballack sent a long ball over the Cologne defence to Gonzalo Castro, who fired wide from 16 yards.
Novakovic proves the difference
Leverkusen looked more motivated after the interval but Renato Augusto's powerful drive from 28 yards went just over the Cologne goal in the 51st minute. The visitors came even closer a minute later with Renato Augusto finding Stefan Kiessling, whose shot from the left struck the crossbar.
The push forward continued as Michal Kadlec headed narrowly over from nine yards out, while Cologne goalkeeper Michael Rensing made a sensational save to keep out Ballack in the 64th minute.
Cologne then took the lead three minutes later against the run of play with Miso Brecko sending a through ball to Novakovic, who chipped a shot over Leverkusen goalkeeper Rene Adler.
Leverkusen were again unlucky with 15 minutes to play as Renato Augusto's effort rebounded off the right post. And Cologne ended Leverkusen's challenge for good in the 82nd minute as Adler could only palm away Petit's free-kick with Novakovic blasting home the rebound.