Ermedin Demirovic, Nils Petersen, Vincenzo Grifo and Jonathan Schmid goals kept ninth-in-the-table Freiburg in the chase for the European places, whilst leaving Cologne in serious trouble at the foot of the standings.
Cologne's prospects of climbing out of the automatic relegation zone were dealt a blow in the 18th minute when Petersen picked off Ellyes Skhiri's errant pass to teammate Sebastiaan Bornauw, and fired beyond Timo Horn. Demirovic gave the Billy Goats a mountain to climb barely 120 seconds later, the Bosnian striker steering home Grifo's long-range effort following a fine Roland Sallai run and pass. Hungarian Sallai had the chance to make it three before a one-sided first half was up, but could not beat Horn in a very presentable one-on-one.
Despite offering diddly-squat as an attacking unit in the first period, Cologne reduced the arrears soon after the restart as Sebastian Andersson met substitute Ismail Jakobs's inch-perfect cross with a superb first-time finish. After Florian Kainz flashed a volley wide, Lukas Kübler brought down the effervescent Jakobs for a penalty. Ondrej Duda stepped up, but slipped as he connected with the ball and ballooned over the crossbar. Jan Thielmann had an effort ruled out for an earlier handball against Jonas Hector in a frantic finale, with breakaway goals from Grifo and substitute Jonathan Schmid compounding second-bottom Cologne's misery.
- Cologne are a point behind relegation play-off incumbents Arminia Bielefeld, with two rounds of fixtures remaining.
- The Billy Goats have gone 16 matches without a clean sheet - the longest such run of all current Bundesliga clubs.
- Duda has failed to score five of his eight penalty kicks in the Bundesliga.
- Grifo is Freiburg's top scorer this season with nine goals, one more than Petersen.
- Demirovic scored one and assisted two as Freiburg ran out 5-0 winners in the reverse fixture. He ended a run of six without a goal here.
- Freiburg have won eight of their 11 meetings with Cologne under Christian Streich.
Watch: Flekken: "It was the comeback I'd wished for"
Cologne: T. Horn - Ehizibue (Özcan 76'), Bornauw, Czichos, J. Horn - Skhiri (Meyer 76'), Hector (c) - Wolf (Jakobs 46'), Duda, Kainz (Thielmann 64') - Andersson (Drexler 64')
Subs: Zieler, Schmitz, Rexhbecaj, Mere
Out: Höger (groin)
Coach: Friedhelm Funkel
Freiburg: Flekken - Kübler, Lienhart, Gulde (Schlotterbeck 84'), Günter (c) - Sallai (Schmid 58'), Keitel (Santamaria 66'), Höfler, Grifo - Demirovic (Höler 57'), Petersen (Haberer 66')
Subs: Uphoff, Til, Kwon, Jeong
Out: Heintz (back), Müller (rested)
Coach: Christian Streich