Podolski strikes to rescue point for Cologne

Germany star Lukas Podolski hit his 14th goal of the season on Tuesday to seal Cologne's 1-1 draw with Mainz in a replayed German league match to warm up for their trip to Bayern Munich in three days. 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 in the German media ever since Schalke revealed their interest in signing him last Saturday, but the German hot-shot has a contract with the Rhineland club until 2013. The 26-year-old justified the fuss to equalise against Mainz with a crisp 86th minute strike to claim his tenth league goal in his last eight games with the draw leaving Cologne 10th in the league. The original match was cancelled on November 19 following the attempted suicide of referee Babak Rafati in his hotel room just hours before kick-off. While much of the pre-match interest surrounded Podolski, who has won 95 caps, the Cologne star struggled to finish his opportunities with clear chances either side of the break which kept Mainz goalkeeper Christian Wetklo busy. Both teams showed why they are mid-table without a clear shot on goal in the first 35 minutes. The opener came on 70 minutes when Tunisia striker Sami Allagui headed home to break his eigtht-match drought. But Podolski put 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 his 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.

Source: AFP