Ihlas Bebou scored twice as Hoffenheim returned to winning ways with a comprehensive 5-0 home victory over Cologne.
Rafael Czichos set the tone for a miserable night from a Cologne perspective inside eight minutes. The Billy Goats’ stand-in captain - deputising for the unwell Jonas Hector - misplayed a pass straight to Andrej Kramaric, who was denied an opening goal by a quite brilliant point-blank save from Timo Horn. Bebou did manage to break the deadlock with around half-an-hour gone, the Togo striker collecting a precision-perfect Kramaric pass and firing home with aplomb. Ex-Hoffenheim striker Anthony Modeste sent a tame header wide as the vistitors went in at the break with it all to do.
Cologne's task was made a whole lot harder soon after the restart. Christoph Baumgartner fashioned an opening for Kevin Akpoguma to pick out a cross. He did just that, whipping a telling ball into the danger zone for Bebou to flick in his second of the contest. Baumgartner was on the receiving end of a David Raum cross to add a third barely 120 seconds later. Substitute Georgino Rutter set up Dennis Geiger for Hoffenheim's fourth with 16 minutes remaining. The crossbar denied Kramaric a piece of the goal-scoring pie, before Stefan Posch added the gloss to a one-sided victory that takes Hoffenheim to within a point of Cologne in the top half.
- Hoffenheim are unbeaten in 11 Bundesliga meetings with Cologne, winning the last seven.
- Kramaric goes joint-top of the Bundesliga assists chart after getting his fifth of the campaign.
- Bebou scored his first top-flight goals since the start of May.
- Baumgartner netted his third of the season and second in as many games.
- Geiger was last on target against Werder Bremen on 25 October 2020.
- Baumgart suffered only his second - albeit heaviest - defeat in nine competitive matches as Cologne head coach (W4, D3).
Watch: Ihlas Bebou reflects on Hoffenheim's impressive win
Hoffenheim: Baumann (c) - Kaderabek (Richards 36'), Akpoguma, Posch, Raum (Skov 81') - Samassekou, Grillitsch - Geiger (Bruun Larsen 81'), Baumgartner (Rudy 73') - Bebou (Rutter 73'), Kramaric
Unused subs: Philipp, Dabbur, Stiller, Vogt
Out: Bicakcic (knee), Hübner (back), John (shoulder), Nordtveit (thigh)
Coach: Sebastian Hoeneß
Cologne: T. Horn - Schmitz, Mere (Kilian 56'), Czichos (c), Ehizibue (Katterbach 75') - Özcan - Thielmann (Lemperle (79'), Uth, Kainz (Schaud 56') - Modeste, Andersson (Duda 56')
Unused subs: Schwäbe, Hübers, Schindler, Ostrak
Out: Hector (illness), J. Horn (hip), Ljubicic (illness), Skhiri (knee)
Coach: Steffen Baumgart