Podolski secures 'lucky' draw for Cologne
German star Lukas Podolski hit his 14th league goal of the season to clinch Cologne a 1-1 draw with Mainz in a replayed Bundesliga match to warm up for their trip to Bayern Munich. The original match between the two sides had been cancelled on 19 November.
Cologne's last league game of 2011 is in Munich on Friday against the league leaders in a match which gives Podolski the chance to go up against his ex-club, where he spent three unfruitful years before returning to Cologne in 2009.
There has been a storm of interest around Podolski, but the German striker has a contract with the Rhineland club until 2013. The 26-year-old justified the fuss, though, with the equaliser against Mainz with a crisp 86th-minute strike to claim his tenth goal in his last eight league games and leave Cologne tenth in the Bundesliga.
"Mainz were clearly the better team and deserved to win, luckily for us I managed to score after all," said Podolski. "The point we got was sheer luck."
While much of the pre-match interest surrounded Podolski, the Cologne star struggled to finish his opportunities with clear chances either side of the break that kept Mainz goalkeeper Christian Wetklo busy.
Both teams showed why they are midtable without a clear shot on goal in the first 35 minutes. The opener finally came on 70 minutes, however, when Tunisian striker Sami Allagui headed home to break his eight-match drought for Mainz.
But Podolski pulled his side level with a trademark goal from just outside the penalty area when midfielder Mato Jajalo slipped a pass to him and he blasted home a shot which slammed off the right post and gave Wetklo no chance.
The draw leaves Mainz 12th in the table as they face fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday in their last league game before the winter break.