The Rhine derby was all shook up by Elvis Rexhbecaj, whose brace earned the Billy Goats victory at local rivals Gladbach, with Florian Neuhaus scoring the hosts' consolation.
It was fiery and ferocious at Borussia-Park as the two local rivals looked to gain an immediate upper hand. It was not long before the first name went in the referee's book, with Lars Stindl picking up an early warning, and the referee had to put pen to pad moments after, to register the first goal of the game. Rexhbecaj skipped inside Denis Zakaria and sent a shot past Yann Sommer, with a deflection helping it on its way past the Swiss custodian. Cologne's lead lasted just over ten minutes before Neuhaus levelled, this time with the aid of two deflections to gazump Timo Horn in the Cologne goal.
There was no deflection needed for Rexhbecaj to restore the visitors' lead ten minutes into the second half, as he intercepted Stefan Lainer's weak clearance and threaded his shot through Sommer's legs from a tight angle. Marcus Thuram, Alassane Plea and Jonas Hofmann were all sent on as Marco Rose reacted with a triple substitution, and the tide looked to be turning. Stindl screwed an effort over as the white shirts of Gladbach flooded forward in search of an equaliser. They were met by a stern wall of red Cologne jerseys, though, with Markus Gisdol's men defending with discipline and determination for a third win in four games, taking them eight points clear of the relegation zone.
- Rexhbecaj scored for the first time in back-to-back Bundesliga fixtures, while this was his first ever Bundesliga brace.
- Rexhbecaj was also on target in Gladbach on Matchday 3. He is the Billy Goats' top scorer so far this term with five goals.
- Neuhaus' fourth goal of the season matches his best ever single-season haul from last term.
- Gladbach lost for the first time in 2021, with Eintracht Frankfurt the only remaining unbeaten Bundesliga team in the new calendar year.
- Cologne have won just 26 of the 92 Bundesliga derbies against Gladbach, losing 51.
Watch: Rexhbecaj: "It's a great feeling!"
Gladbach: Sommer - Lainer, Ginter, Jantschke, Wendt (Bensebaini 72') - Zakaria (Kramer 48'), Neuhaus - H. Wolf (Thuram 58'), Stindl (c), Herrmann (Hofmann 58') - Embolo (Plea 58')
Unused subs: Sippel, Beyer, Lazaro, Elvedi
Coach: Marco Rose
Cologne: T. Horn (c) - Mere, Czichos, Cestic - Ehizibue (Schmitz 83'), Skhiri, Özcan, Jakobs (J. Horn 90'+2) - Rexhbecaj - Duda (Arokodare 90'+2), Dennis (Thielmann 58')
Unused subs: Zieler, Katterbach, Meyer, Limnios, Drexler
Out: Andersson (knee), Bornauw (back), Hector (muscular), Kainz (knee), M. Wolf (ankle)
Coach: Markus Gisdol
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