The Billy Goats were held to a 1-1 draw by Werder Bremen at the weekend, although Peter Stöger's side still remain involved in the race for Europe. The experience head coach made just one change as Salih Özcan replaced Marco Höger in central midfield.
As for Roger Schmidt, it was boos and whistles that greeted him on full-time at the weekend. He made no less than six changes - some unforced, others not - to try and turn things around as Tin Jedvaj, Danny da Costa, Jonathan Tah, Julian Baumgartlinger, Charlies Aranguiz and Javier Hernandez dropped out for Benjamin Henrichs, Ömer Toprak, Wendell, Vladlen Yurchenko, Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt.
Level pegging at the break
It was a tense but open start to the game that provided little in the way of clear cut chances. Pawel Olkowski's driven cross was almost deflected into his own net by Henrichs, although he did manage to clear before the ball trickled in. At the other end, Admir Mehmedi's effort was blocked wide by a determined home defence.
The stalemate was broken by a superb piece of play by from Köln, who opened the scoring in some style. Fredrik Sörensen won the ball up midway inside the Leverkusen half and produced a pass of real quality to find Modeste, and the Frenchman sent the bouncing ball thundering past Bernd Leno from the edge of the area on the half volley.
That woke the Werkself from their relative slumber and Thomas Kessler quickly became the key man. He made a solid save from two long-range drives, the latter from Hakan Calhanoglu was particularly impressive. The stand-in stopper then had to react quickly to flick over Mehmedi's effort with his foot just six yards out.
However, Kessler and Köln's resistance was broken in the final minute of the first half. Wendell managed to steal possession and exchanged a tidy one-two with Havertz, who produced a pass that players 10 years his senior would struggle with to play in the Brazilian. He hammered home on the angle, as the sides went into the break level.
Dull second half sees it end all-square
Neither side made any changes at the break and it was no surprise to see the opening 15 minutes of the second period take on a similar look to the first-half. Openings were much more rare as the two teams tightened up in a bid to build from the back and work forward in a less chaotic manner.
Regular fouls were proving more of a problem to any momentum either side managed to get going, although Köln still looked dangerous. A blocked Modeste shot looked to have caught the hand of a Leverkusen defender but for appeals to be waved away, while Leno had to make a superb save to deny Konstantin Rausch's effort.
Leverkusen's attack just couldn't quite click in the second period, which meant the game slowly petered out to end in a draw. The draw means the hosts remain in seventh going into the winter break, while Bayer slip to ninth thanks to SC Freiburg's win over FC Ingolstadt 04.