Bayern Munich’s perfect Bundesliga start came to a screeching halt when they drew 1-1 with Cologne on Saturday but they still protected their three-point lead after rivals Borussia Dortmund lost 2-0 at Bayer Leverkusen.
The Bavarians, who lost at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in midweek, hit the woodwork three times but failed to make their dominance count, with Cologne protecting their undefeated run.
Bayern, however, stayed three points clear at the top on 16 after a surprisingly toothless Dortmund conceded one goal in each half to slump to their second loss of the season at Leverkusen and drop to third on 12, level with fourth-placed Cologne.
“We have not been good in two games but I am confident,” Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters. “We started the game well, dominated but in the second half Cologne improved.
“We could have won that game but Cologne also had chances to win it. We can be disappointed but we should not be worried.”
The hosts struggled against the hard-working Cologne defenders for 40 minute before Joshua Kimmich finally broke the deadlock, diving to head in a beautiful Juan Bernat cross for the lead.
Thomas Mueller came close to adding another goal four minutes after the restart as did Robert Lewandowski, with Bayern keeping up the pressure and looking to kill off the game.
But it was Cologne who scored when striker Anthony Modeste timed his run to perfection, taking off inside the box to volley a cross into the back of Manuel Neuer’s net for his fifth goal of the campaign.
The hosts were left stunned for a few minute with Cologne trying to hit them again on the counter-attack and Yuya Osako’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Cologne keeper Timo Horn made the save of the day when he punched a point-blank Mueller volley on to the crossbar and the Bavarians also hit the woodwork with a powerful low drive by Bernat five minutes from time.
The last big chance fell to the visitors, however, with Simon Zoller coming agonisingly close to a stoppage-time winner as his shot rolled just wide of the post.
Hertha Berlin climbed to second spot on 13 points, after easing past Hamburg SV 2-0 with two goals from Vedad Ibisevic, who became a father late on Friday.
Hamburg, under new coach Markus Gisdol, have yet to win this season and are in 17th place on just one point.
Dortmund were a shadow of their attacking self as mercurial Leverkusen took a 10th-minute lead through Admir Mehmedi’s header.
Mexican striker Javier Hernandez scored his fifth goal in a week when he slotted in a Hakan Calhanoglou pass in the 79th to dash any hopes of a Dortmund comeback and lift his team to seventh place.
(Editing by Ed Osmond and Clare Fallon)