Ingolstadt earn hard-fought draw at Köln to continue stellar form

Impressive newcomers Ingolstadt stays unbeaten on the road this season after holding Köln to a 1-1 draw.

Anthony Modeste continued his excellent scoring run with the opening goal on 10 minutes. However, midway through the first half, the Bavarian side leveled through Marvin Matip's header from a set-piece situation.

Ingolstadt has yet to lose in four away matches this season, their win last week against Werder Bremen their third consecutive away win -- the first newly-promoted club to achieve such a strong start to life in the top division.

Despite meeting in the 2.Bundesliga, this was the first time the sides had ever met in the Bundesliga -- in fact, for most top-flight teams that will be the case given Ingolstadt was established in 2004 as a merger of two local sides. The club's football operations are 19.94% owned by local-based car manufacturers Audi who have helped build the club's infrastructure in recent years.

Ingolstadt started with purpose and pace. Pascal Groß, the team's midfield metronome, forcing an early corner kick before the first minute. At the other end, Yuya Osako had a shot blocked by Tobias Levels.

But it was the home side who got the first breakthrough. The cross coming from right-winger Marcel Risse and Modeste bulldozed his marker and headed high into the net. The 27-year-old Frenchman was quoted in L'Equipe last week staking his claim for a shot in Didier Deschamps' national team.

In some German media, Friday's clash was billed as the 'All-Austrian' clash with the league's two coaches from Austria going head-to-head. Peter Stöger and Ralph Hasenhüttl both played in the same side at Austria Vienna in the early 1990s, winning three championships in the space of five seasons.

Just as Stöger did in his first season in the Bundesliga with Köln, Hasenhüttl has tried to build upon defensive stability. Ingolstadt's four clean sheets in six games is a result of a compact structure between midfield and defense.

Bouncing back from a 1-0 defeat at home to Hamburg on Wednesday, Hasenhüttl's men equalized short of the 20-minute mark when Groß's corner kick was headed in by Matip who had a run on his marker due to Cologne's zonal marking setup. Matip's last Bundesliga goal came nine-and-a-half years ago.

Stöger's side have had a bright start to the campaign, winning the derby last week against rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach. But the follow-up performance and 2-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin in midweek was a source of palpable frustration.

At home, the Billy Goats have picked up seven points from a possible nine. Despite his two changes to the starting line up, Köln was never canny enough in attack to trouble a stoic defensive unit of Ingolstadt.

Left back Jonas Hector, the team's notable international player, and possible first-choice under Joachim Löw, is the thrust any time Köln go forward. Neither Modeste or Osako could really threaten the two Ingolstadt center-backs, while Leonardo Bittencourt was withdrawn in the second half.

On 33 minutes, Stefan Lex was in the clear after an Ingolstadt counterattack, but his shot was tipped around the post by Timo Horn. That was as close as the visitors got to a second goal, the onus on Groß to deliver the goods in possession. 24-year-old Groß is the chief creator of the three-man midfield axis -- last season he assisted 23 times in a more advanced position. Another of those, an energetic and intelligent worker, is US international Alfredo Morales.

The 25-year-old, born in the German capital, has played 68 of 72 league matches since arriving from hometown club Hertha Berlin. Capped 12 times for Jürgen Klinsmann since 2013, Morales' impressive work at Bavarian club Ingolstadt won't be going unnoticed.

German international Hector was dangerous on the overlap for Köln and struck wide of the post from long-range in the 70th minute. But despite their best efforts, the two teams will walk away content with a point; the reaction of Hasenhüttl at the final whistle would certainly suggest this is an excellent result for the visitors.

The incomplete table looks good for the pair after seven games. Köln occupies fifth, while Ingolstadt is in sixth -- both sides collecting 11 points.