Modeste scores hat trick as Cologne beats Hertha 4-2
Cologne's Anthony Modeste celebrates after he scored his third goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between 1.FC Cologne and Hertha BSC Berlin in Cologne, Germany, Saturday, March 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
CIARAN FAHEY, Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) — Anthony Modeste boosted his appeal among suitors with a hat trick for Cologne to end its six-game winless run by beating Hertha Berlin 4-2 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
The 28-year-old Modeste took his season tally to 22 goals, just one behind league top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund.
"We don't know what we'd do without him," Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said.
Modeste, who joined Cologne from Hoffenheim in 2015, has already been the subject of transfer speculation this season with Cologne receiving reported offers of up to 50 million euros ($54 million) from China for the French striker.
"For me it was clear that I wouldn't desert my team in the middle of the season," said Modeste, who held talks with sporting director Joerg Schmadtke.
"Mr. Schmadtke said that we'll talk again in summer," Modeste said.
Schmadtke had told Kicker magazine, "we will not jeopardize our sporting goals because of a transfer, even if it is a lot of money."
Yuya Osako fired host Cologne into an early lead, though Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein might have done better after letting the Japan forward's strike from distance slip through his fingers.
Horn pulled off a good save to deny Vedad Ibisevic and the visitors were to rue the miss when Modeste scored twice in as many minutes.
Hertha hadn't time to recover after Osako set up Modeste's first goal in the 35th minute before Modeste beat the offside trap to score again.
Hertha was given a lifeline after the break when Horn conceded a penalty with a foul on Niklas Stark, and it was converted by Ibisevic.
But any hopes of a comeback were dented when Modeste completed his hat trick in the 63rd on a well-played counterattack involving Marco Hoeger.
American defender John Anthony Brooks restored some Hertha pride with a header from a corner with around 20 minutes left, though it couldn't prevent the side's sixth straight defeat away from home.
"I'm happy and satisfied in Cologne, and I want to keep scoring goals," Modeste said recently. "You can never say never and I don't know what will happen in future. But I know what I want now, for example to play in the Europa League with Cologne."
Cologne is well-placed to do just that. It moved sixth and above Eintracht Frankfurt, which was held to a scoreless draw by relegation-threatened Hamburger SV in the late game.
WERDER BREMEN 3, LEIPZIG 0
Bremen produced another upset to move away from the relegation zone with its fourth win in five games.
"Everyone is keeping pace in the table. You can't allow yourself to relax," Bremen coach Alexander Nouri said after beating the second-placed team.
Zlatko Junuzovic let fly with a curling shot inside the left post to give Bremen a 34th-minute lead.
Junuzovic, captain in the absence of the injured Clemens Fritz, was also involved in Bremen's second before the hour-mark. He caught the Leipzig defense asleep with a free kick for the unmarked Florian Grillitsch to score.
Florian Kainz sealed it in injury time with his first Bremen goal.
Bremen moved 13th, two points clear of Hamburg in the relegation playoff place.
WOLFSBURG 1, DARMSTADT 0
If Wolfsburg had known that Mario Gomez can't stop scoring under Andries Jonker, the club would surely have appointed the Dutch coach much sooner.
Gomez scored again in Jonker's third game in charge, breaking the deadlock before the interval when Jannes Horn's cross went in off his chest. It was Gomez' 12th goal in eight games under Jonker, including five games for Bayern Munich when Jonker was interim coach in 2011.
Both remain unbeaten in their time together.
Bottom side Darmstadt dropped 14 points from safety.
Hoffenheim boosted its chances of Champions League football with a 1-0 win at home over Bayer Leverkusen to consolidate fourth, which would guarantee a playoff for Europe's premier competition. Fifth-placed Hertha dropped five points behind.
Freiburg gained more than host Augsburg from their 1-1 draw. It stayed eighth while Augsburg remained in a relegation scrap, level on 29 points with Wolfsburg and Bremen, just two points above Hamburg.
Mainz is also on 29 points before hosting Schalke on Sunday.
Also Sunday, defending champion Bayern Munich can stretch its lead to 13 points with a win at Borussia Moenchengladbach.