American youngster Matthew Hoppe netted his fifth goal in three matches only for Jan Thielmann to hit an injury-time winner as Cologne stunned fellow strugglers Schalke on Wednesday.
Schalke had been boosted by the return of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from Ajax, but the club legend was not involved as Hoppe was supported in attack by Mark Uth. The Bundesliga's bottom club looked threatening early on with Suat Serdar testing the reflexes of Cologne keeper Timo Horn inside five minutes. Schalke had close to 75 percent possession in the opening 20 minutes, but Kingsley Ehizibue then fired wide on the counter. On 24 minutes, Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann had to push away an Ondrej Duda free-kick from the left that bounced just in front of him, before a thrilling run from Amine Harit ended with the Morocco international drawing another save from Horn. Uth then missed a great chance to score against his former team when - leaning back after being set up by Harit - he shot over left-footed from eight yards out. Cologne were well in the game by then though, and they looked particularly dangerous from set pieces. Rafael Czichos had a goal ruled out for an earlier foul on Fährmann, but two minutes later the Billy Goats struck again. Fährmann palmed a corner only as far as Dominick Drexler, and he fizzed a vicious volley across the six-yard box for Czichos to head home at the far post. Ehizibue was denied by Fährmann from close range before Schalke hit back late in the half. Hoppe couldn't get the ball to Harit after being forced to check back inside the penalty area, however, and Uth's shot that was arrowing for the top corner was touched behind by Horn.
Czichos was replaced by Noah Katterbach at half-time, and the end-to-end nature of the game continued. Ozan Kabak stopped what looked a certain goal for Cologne when he slid in to intercept Marius Wolf's ball from the right, but the ball almost ended in the net anyway as the defender's clearance cannoned off the post. Harit had another shot on target before causing further problems on his next break. When Cologne committed numbers to prevent the former Nantes player from scoring, Hoppe pounced on the loose ball to tuck home the equaliser. Horn got down low to save a Benjamin Stambouli strike from distance as the Royal Blues sought a winner, and Sead Kolasinac couldn't hit the target after another raid forward. With the impressive Harit often leading the charge, Schalke continued to pile on the pressure. The furious pace they played with eventually slowed, however, and two Cologne substitutes combined in injury-time to snatch a win. Elvis Rexhbecaj punished a tiring Schalke defence to play in Thielmann, and the 18-year-old showed admirable composure to blast home a vital winning goal.
- With five goals from five shots on target, Hoppe now has more Bundesliga goals than any other player in 2021.
- The 19-year-old also scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim before netting in a 3-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
- Schalke have won just one of their last 11 Bundesliga games against Cologne: a 3-1 away victory on 5 March, 2016.
- The opening goal from Czichos was Cologne’s first in over 500 minutes in the Bundesliga.
- Seven of Cologne's 14 goals this season have come from set-piece situations. That's a league-high 50 percent of their total.
- Thielmann got his second goal of the season to extend Cologne's unbeaten run against Schalke to seven matches.
Watch: Huntelaar: "If we play like that we have a good chance"
Schalke: Fährmann - Becker, Kabak, Nastasic (Mascarell 71'), Kolasinac (c) (Oczipka 71') - Raman (Boujellab 71'), Stambouli, Serdar, Harit - Hoppe, Uth
Unused subs: Rönnow, Mendyl, Kutucu, Thiaw, Mercan, Bozdogan
Out: Bentaleb (not included), Ludewig (foot), Paciencia (knee), Schöpf (thigh), Skrzybski (knee)
Coach: Christian Gross
Cologne: T. Horn - Cestic, Bornauw, Czichos (Katterbach HT) - Ehizibue (Rexhbecaj 72'), Skhiri, Hector (c) (Özcan 81'), J. Horn - Wolf, Drexler (Arokodare 88') - Duda (Thielmann 88')
Unused subs: Zieler, Schmitz, Jakobs, Modeste
Out: Andersson (knee), Kainz (knee)
Coach: Markus Gisdol
Watch: Czichos: "A relief to score again"