Neither keeper had much to do in a distinctly tentative contest decided by Vladimir Darida's second-half penalty.
Osako half chance
Following wins for SV Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV on Saturday afternoon, Freiburg went into the game needing a win to lift themselves off the foot of the Bundesliga table. It was a position the south-west club hadn't been in since February 2012, but there were signs they mightn't be rock-bottom for long as Darida sent a dipping long-range effort past the upright.
Köln, for their, part, took a good 25 minutes to settle into the game. Japanese international Yuya Osako was clearly missing a degree of match sharpness on his first start in almost a month, although the former TSV 1860 Munich forward came as close as anyone to breaking the deadlock after stealing a yard on his marker and prodding Dusan Svento's near-post cross narrowly wide.
On the spot
Darida, by contrast, was arguably the liveliest player on the pitch and, after slicing wide ten minutes before the break, it only seemed appropriate that the Czech international should open the scoring. Mergim Mavraj was adjudged to have handled a cross from visiting striker Admir Mehmedi, leaving Freiburg's energetic No7 to tuck away his third penalty of the campaign with 50 minutes gone.
Sebastian Freis had just spurned a glorious opportunity to double the visitors' lead on the hour-mark when Köln almost hit back through Osako in a near-carbon copy of his earlier miss. Peter Stöger knew something had to give and, with Anthony Ujah grabbing the winning goal from the bench last time out at Bremen, the Nigerian frontman was again the man charged with turning the tide.
No way back
Despite the hosts now having three strikers on the pitch, there was no dressing up the look of resignation across many of the Köln fans' faces. Simon Zoller's tame header into the arms of Roman Bürki gave the partisan crowd something to cling onto, but the fact remained the Billy Goats had not picked up a single point all season from a losing position.
Osako did have the ball in the net two minutes from time, only for the referee's assistant to rightly rule the goal out for offside as Köln succumbed to their second defeat of the season on their own turf. The win, meanwhile, sees Freiburg move out of the bottom two and into the relegation play-off spot at the expense of Borussia Dortmund.
Line-ups and statistics