Ellyes Skhiri was in the right place at the right time - twice - for Cologne as they beat Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 9. - © imago images/DFL
Ellyes Skhiri was in the right place at the right time - twice - for Cologne as they beat Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 9. - © imago images/DFL
bundesliga

Ellyes Skhiri: MD9's Man of the Matchday helping Cologne to a historic win at Borussia Dortmund

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It was always likely to take something special to bring a welcome end to an 18-game winless run, and Ellyes Skhiri delivered just that as Cologne beat Borussia Dortmund to savour victory again after a historic abstinence.

The past nine months have been challenging for everybody, and Cologne could tell a story or two about that having suffered more than any other club in the Bundesliga: their last league win dates back to March 6.

Since that 2-1 win at Paderborn, the Billy Goats had tried 18 times without success to leave the field triumphant. Until Saturday.

At Signal Iduna Park, Cologne ended their own period of winless isolation, and for Skhiri to be their saviour is rather symbolic. His own form has suffered since losing Jonas Hector as his partner in defence, with coach Markus Gisdol admitting his "best games have been with Jonas by his side".

Not wanting to name a scapegoat, Gisdol underlined that the responsibility for Cologne's seemingly endless woes was "spread across many shoulders," adding that Skhiri is an "extremely hard-working team player, who enjoys a great reputation within the team.

"He's just having a bit of bad luck, but he'll work his way out of it," said Gisdol. How right he was. On Saturday, Skhiri came up with both goals in a 2-1 win which not just lifted them out of the bottom two, it also raised their dwindling spirits.

Watch: Skhiri reacts to "very important" win

"This was an important win," Skhiri said. "Our self-confidence has not been all that great recently, but we showed great character as a team today.

"Each one of us gave it our best. This was the first time I've scored two goals in a game, but the most important thing today was the collective, and we can build on the solidarity we showed."

That togetherness could be seen in the form of the set-piece routine which worked not only once, but twice. Marius Wolf flicked Duda's corner on to the unmarked Skhiri to tap in at the far post to give Cologne the lead, and the very same combination doubled their advantage 15 minutes into the second half.

Two carbon-copy goals, with Ellyes Skhiri finding space to slot in at the far post, earned Cologne victory over Borussia Dortmund. - Maik Hölter/TEAM2sportphoto/Maik Hölter/TEAM2sportphoto/Pool

"I always try to get myself into a good position from set pieces," Skhiri said. "You need a bit of luck too."

They say you make your own luck, and Skhiri's hard work – he covered more ground than any other player at Signal Iduna Park, with 8.38 miles (13.5km) – certainly contributed to a win which brought a much-needed ray of light to Cologne on Saturday.

"We gave the best reaction we could for the fans and the club," added the Tunisian midfielder. "Now we can take a deep breath. We're still alive!"