Yannick Gerhardt earned Wolfsburg a 1-0 win, but Cologne's place in Europe was confirmed by their Rhine rivals Bayer Leverkusen, whose victory in Hoffenheim means the Billy Goats are certain to finish inside the top seven.
Seeking a win which would secure European football next season, Cologne were soon on the attack, and soon creating their first chance of the game. When it fell to Anthony Modeste, few would have expected the ball not to hit the back of the net, such has been the Frenchman's form of late, but despite executing a textbook striker's header, Pavao Pervan reacted perfectly to push the ball away. Benno Schmitz went even closer to putting the hosts in front, but Pervan managed to get his fingertips to the full-back's shot to turn the ball onto the left-hand post. Wolfsburg had spent much of the first half on the back foot, but they took the lead in clinical fashion just before the break with Gerhardt turning in their first shot of the game, tucking the ball in with aplomb against his former club after Jonas Wind laid the ball on a plate for him.
Florian Kainz had the first chance to bring Cologne level in the second half, but Pervan was proving impenetrable as he reacted quickly to turn the ball behind. Wolfsburg continued to look clinical at the other end with Lukas Nmecha turning in Ridle Baku's cross, but the goal was ruled out for offside following a VAR consultation. Kainz went close again as the crowd, boosted by the VAR decision, did their best to lift the home team. Another Modeste header was tipped over the crossbar by Pervan as Cologne doubled their efforts to get the goal they thought they needed to secure European football next season. It was not ultimately necessary, though, as Rhine rivals Leverkusen came from behind to beat Hoffenheim and ensure the Billy Goats, even in defeat, are certain of a top-seven finish, and a return to continental football next season.
- Gerhardt scored his first goal in over a year – since 21 April 2021, against VfB Stuttgart.
- Cologne went 1-0 down also in the reverse fixture, but came back to win that one 3-2.
- Cologne's six-game unbeaten run at home to Wolfsburg (3 wins) came to an end with their first defeat since a 3-0 loss on 6 August 2011.
- Florian Kohfeldt's men won on the road for the first time in six away matches (3 defeats), since a 2-0 win in Frankfurt on Matchday 22.
Cologne: Schwäbe - Schmitz (Schindler 81'), Kilian (Lemperle 87'), Hübers, Hector (c) - Skhiri, Özcan - Thielmann (Ljubicic 62'), Uth (Duda 86'), Kainz (Schaub 81') – Modeste
Unused subs: T. Horn, Ehizibue, J. Horn, Chabot
Out: Andersson (not included)
Coach: Steffen Baumgart
Wolfsburg: Pervan - Baku, Lacroix, Brooks, Van de Ven (Vranckx 68')- Schlager, Arnold (c), Gerhardt - Wind (Bialek 90'+2), L. Nmecha (Lukebakio 87'), Kruse (F. Nmecha 69')
Unused subs: Klinger, Mbabu, Steffen, Paredes, Philipp
Out: Bornauw (back), Casteels (shoulder) Otavio (knee), Roussillon (foot) Waldschmidt (ankle), William (knee)
Coach: Florian Kohfeldt
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