Timo Werner was on target as RB Leipzig reclaimed third in the Bundesliga with an entertaining 4-2 win over Cologne at the RheinEnergieStadion on Monday night.
In the first German top-flight game to be played in the month of June for 25 years, Jhon Cordoba notched his 12th league goal of the season to give Cologne the perfect start (7), but the Colombian was off receiving treatment when Patrik Schick rose to head Leipzig level (20).
- How Cologne and Leipzig lined up
- Bundesliga table | Results | Fixtures
- Timo Werner: A striker in demand
Cordoba did not recover, and Julian Nagelsmann's side completed the turnaround seven minutes before the break as Christopher Nkunku collected Konrad Laimer's pass.
In a breathless start to the second period, Werner fired home his 25th Bundesliga goal of the season (50) before substitute Anthony Modeste reduced the arrears (55) only for Dani Olmo to immediately restore Leipzig's two-goal cushion (57) which they never relinquished.
Cologne: Horn (6), Schmitz (6), Czichos (6), Leistner (6), Katterbach (6), Skhiri (7), Hector (6), Kainz (6), Rexhbecaj (6), Jakobs (6), Cordoba. (7)
Subs: Terodde (n/a), Mere (5), Drexler (5), Modeste (6), Thielmann (5).
RB Leipzig: Gulacsi (6), Angelino (7), Upamecano (7), Sabitzer (6), Klostermann (6), Nkunku (8), Mukiele (7), Olmo (7), Laimer (7), Werner (7), Schick (7).
Subs: Haidara (5), Forsberg (n/a), Adams (5).
Man of the match: Christopher Nkunku.
How Leipzig returned to winning ways
The visitors' hopes of a first Bundesliga title faded after they were held to a 2-2 draw in their last outing against Hertha Berlin while Cologne's efforts to qualify for the Europa League have also stagnated since the return to action.
But that did not stop both teams producing a lively affair - and it was the hosts who made the brighter start.
Cordoba was an unused substitute in the reverse fixture, a 4-1 win for Leipzig, but he wasted little time in adding to his Bundesliga tally as he was on hand to direct the ball beyond Peter Gulacsi after Elvis Rexhbecaj's initial effort had been tipped onto the post.
But it has been Cologne's woeful defensive record that has been their Achilles heel this season, and they conceded their eighth goal in just over three games when Schick rose above Rafael Czichos to head in Angelino's cross just 14 minutes later.
The hosts were beaten at Hoffenheim in their last outing, and they were dealt a blow when Cordoba failed to recover from a knock in the build-up to the equaliser as Leipzig duly edged in front.
- Cologne were without Sebastiaan Bornauw, who was sent off against Hoffenheim, while Marcel Risse was out injured. Jonas Hector was rested in midweek but was back in the starting line-up.
- Marcel Halstenberg was suspended for RB Leipzig, who were also without striker Yussuf Poulsen. Kevin Kampl, Ibrahima Konate and Ethan Ampadu failed to shake off knocks but Willi Orban was among the list of substitutes.
There appeared very little danger when Laimer collected the ball in midfield, but he showed great vision to spot the run of Nkunku, whose deft finish over Timo Horn brought his fifth goal of the campaign.
Not to be overshadowed by his team-mates, it took only five minutes of the restart for Werner to add to his impressive tally, as he latched onto goalkeeper Gulacsi's long, hopeful clearance from a defensive set-piece to stroke in his 31st goal in all competitions.
There were just 12 seconds between Gulacsi collecting the ball and Werner sticking away his chance, but Cologne were not about to go down without a fight.
Modeste, who had replaced Cordoba, brilliantly halved the deficit with an unstoppable finish from the edge of the box, finding the bottom corner as Dayot Upamecano stood off him to give Cologne hope.
Markus Gisdol, who worked alongside Nagelsmann at Hoffenheim earlier in his career, cut a frustrated figure two minutes later, however, as Leipzig restored their two-goal lead with Olmo curling home his first league goal since joining from Dinamo Zagreb in January.
Leipzig had chances to extend their advantage in the final half an hour as Werner saw his shot from an acute angle saved by the feet of Horn before Schick headed his rebound wide.
When referee Christian Dingert overturned an initial decision to award a penalty after a coming together between Modeste and Lukas Klostermann, Cologne knew it wasn't to be their day - and they remain in 11th place, seven points above Fortuna Dusseldorf in the relegation play-off spot.
Man of the match: Christopher Nkunku
Much of the attention has quite rightly been on Werner for Leipzig this season, but behind his lethal finishing is an impressive supporting cast that helped continue this remarkable run of away victories in games behind closed doors.
Monday saw the turn of Nkunku to demonstrate the array of talent at Nagelsmann's disposal, and there was more to delight those who tuned in besides his composed finish in the opening period.
The 22-year-old Frenchman now has five goals and 13 assists in the Bundesliga this season, and Cologne could not cope with his speed of thought and awareness throughout this contest.
- RB Leipzig have gained 19 points from losing positions in the current Bundesliga season. The last team to collect more was Wolfsburg in 2013/14 (21 after 34 games).
- With his assist for Timo Werner's goal, Peter Gulasci became the first goalkeeper to be involved in a goal in the current Bundesliga season.
- Cologne have now scored in 15 consecutive Bundesliga games - their longest scoring streak in 33 years (from November 1986 until August 1987 under coach Christoph Daum).
Cologne travel to face Augsburg on Sunday (kick-off: 5pm UK time), while RB Leipzig host bottom side Paderborn on Saturday at 2.30pm.
Sky Sports will show 64 live Premier League games when the season resumes. In addition to the 39 matches already scheduled to be broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports before the coronavirus interruption, 25 more matches will be available on both Sky Sports Premier League and Sky's free-to-air Pick channel, allowing the whole nation to be part of the return of live sport.