Cologne had no room for sentiment as they ruthlessly took apart 10-man Schalke on their Bundesliga return to take all three points in a 3-1 win to round out the Matchday 1 action.
Cologne 3-1 Schalke
Goals: 1-0 Kilian 49' (assist: Hector), 2-0 Kainz (62'), 2-1 Bülter 76' (assist: Ouwejan), 3-1 Ljubicic 81' (assist: Thielmann)
Sent off: Drexler (35')
Following the heartache of their Bundesliga relegation at the end of 2020/21, there was a sense of renewed optimism for Schalke as they returned to the promised land. Their positive energy was very nearly rewarded early on when Rodrigo Zalazar lashed in an unstoppable shot from 16 yards, only for it to be chalked off following a VAR review as Maya Yoshida was in an offside position obstructing the goalkeeper's view. Cologne soon recovered though, and after half-chances for Jeff Chabot and Florian Dietz, momentum swung their way when Dominick Drexler was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Jonas Hector. If they were unable to make their numerical advantage count before the interval, they certainly did so afterwards.
Luca Kilian got the ball rolling just four minutes after the restart when he prodded in from close range from Hector's cross. It was 2-0 a short while later after Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow fumbled a high ball into the box. Jan Thielmann's follow-up was blocked but Florian Kainz was well placed to finish on the rebound. Cologne were very much the better team by that stage, but there was a glimmer of hope for the Royal Blues when substitute Marius Bülter headed in a Thomas Ouwejan free-kick with 15 minutes to go. However, Dejan Ljubicic made sure of the points moments later when he connected with Thielmann's cross, sending a header in off Schwolow as Cologne revelled in the role of Schalke's party poopers.
- Cologne have never had a goalless draw under head coach Steffen Baumgart.
- Kilian scored his second Bundesliga goal; his first arrived in March 2022 in a 3-2 win over Mainz.
- Kainz was also on target on Matchday 1 last season in a 3-1 success against Hertha Berlin.
- Dietz made his Bundesliga debut for Cologne; Ouwejan, Yoshida, Alex Kral, Zalazar, Tobias Mohr and Tom Krauß did so for Schalke.
- Cologne were the most-improved team in the Bundesliga last season, climbing from 17th a year earlier to seventh.
- The Billy Goats are unbeaten in nine Bundesliga games against Schalke (W5, D4), and have recorded more wins over the Royal Blues (40) than any other top-flight team they’ve faced.
Watch: Skhiri: "We played as a team"
Cologne: Schwäbe - Schmitz, Kilian, Chabot (Pedersen 76'), Hector (c) - Skhiri - Schindler (Adamyan 61'), Ljubicic (Olesen 85'), Kainz (Maina 76') - Thielmann, Dietz (Lemperle 86')
Unused subs: Horn, Ehizibue, Martel, Duda
Out: Hübers (knock), Modeste (not included), Limnios (knee), Uth (groin)
Coach: Steffen Baumgart
Schalke: Schwolow - Brunner, Yoshida (c), Kaminski, Ouwejan – Krauß (Latza 77'), Kral (Calhanoglu 89'), Zalazar (Bülter 58') - Drexler, Polter (Terodde 88'), Mohr (Flick 77')
Unused subs: Fährmann, Thiaw, Matriciani, Mollet
Coach: Frank Kramer
Watch: Bülter frustrated after defeat
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