Cologne live to fight another day after Sebastiaan Bornauw headed them to a narrow 1-0 victory over already-relegated Schalke on the final day of the 2020/21 season.
News filtered through early that Lars Stindl had given Borussia Mönchengladbach the lead at Werder Bremen - meaning a win would make Cologne safe - and they were on the front foot fairly quickly, with Jonas Hector whipping a ball into the Schalke box which ultimately came to nothing. Matthew Hoppe had a chance at the other end after Mehmet Aydin headed down Shkodran Mustafi's ranging diagonal pass, but the young American's effort was tame. Cologne should have made the Royal Blues pay after Benno Schmitz and Marius Wolf combined down the right-hand side, but the former saw his shot stopped by Ralf Fährmann. Fährmann had to be on his toes again minutes later to deny Ondrej Duda, followed by Florian Kainz. Cologne failed to make their first-half dominance tell, and the whistle for the break went with the deadlock intact.
Cologne were the width of the post away from the lead - and Bundesliga safety - soon after the restart when Fährmann touched a Hector drive onto the upright. Schalke always looked capable of scoring themselves, though, and Amine Harit kept the hosts honest with a winding dribble which ended up with a shot which hit the outside side-netting. Sebastian Andersson thought he had scored the all-important goal for the Billy Goats late in the game, but the Swede, who has missed a large chunk of this season with a knee injury following his summer arrival from Union Berlin, was denied what might have been just his fourth Cologne goal by a foul in the build-up. Max Meyer forced another save from Fährmann with a volley, but there was still time for Bornauw to head home Jan Thielmann's cross and it ended 1-0, Cologne in 16th with the points. They'll face Bundesliga 2's third-placed team in the two-legged play-offs to determine who will compete in the Bundesliga next term.
- Cologne were relegated when Friedhelm Funkel last took over mid-season in 2000/01.
- The Billy Goats remain unbeaten in their last eight Bundesliga meetings with Schalke (W4, D4).
- Duda scored a team-leading seven Bundesliga goals for Cologne in 2020/21, which had included five in his previous eight appearances.
- Hoppe was Schalke's top scorer in this season's Bundesliga with six goals.
- Since the Bundesliga’s inception, no team has spent more matchdays rooted to the foot of the table than Schalke (113).
- Mark Uth made 15 Bundesliga appearances during a second spell with hometown club Cologne in 2019/20, registering five goals and six assists.
Watch: Bornauw: "We kept believing"
Cologne: T. Horn (c) - Schmitz (Drexler 79'), Bornauw, Czichos, Kattrerbach- Özcan (Meyer 79'), Hector (c) - Wolf (J. Horn 88'), Duda, Kainz (Thielmann 58') - Andersson (Höger 88')
Subs: Zieler, Arokodare, Ehizibue, Mere
Out: Jakobs (suspended), Rexhbecaj (knock), Skhiri (suspended)
Coach: Friedhelm Funkel
Schalke: Fährmann (c) - Becker, Sane, Mustafi - Aydin, Idrizi (Skrzybski 87'), Flick, Harit, Oczipka - Paciencia (Raman 72'), Hoppe (Pavlidis 89')
Subs: Langer, Ludewig, Matriciani, Ezeh, Schöpf, Kaparos
Out: Bentaleb (groin), Boujellab (ankle), Huntelaar (calf), Kolasinac (unconfirmed), Mascarell (hamstring), Mendyl (ankle), Nastasic (calf), Rönnow (knee), Stambouli (jaw), Uth (unconfirmed), William (knee)
Coach: Dimitrios Grammozis