1. FC Köln are assured of their Bundesliga survival after beating SV Darmstadt 98 4-1 on Matchday 31.
Köln made a positive start at their RheinEnergieSTADION and took the lead inside the first five minutes when Anthony Modeste played a smart one-two with Yannick Gerhardt before finding the corner of Christian Mathenia's goal. Darmstadt returned fire less than ten minutes later with Jerome Gondorf capitalising on some indecisive defending in the Köln box to score for the second time in three weeks. The hosts made it 2-1 before the half was out, though, when Modeste grabbed his second of the game and 14th of the season after latching onto Frederik Sörensen's speculative ball forward.
Köln pulled further clear at the start of the second half thanks a stunning strike from Marcel Risse. The winger tied Darmstadt left-back Junior Diaz in knots before chipping Mathenia with the outside of his boot from a tight angle. Darmstadt threatened to reduce the arrears around the hour mark, but Mario Vrancic's free-kick bounced back off the post before Aytac Sulu - the top-scoring defender in Europe this season with seven league goals - saw his header hit the crossbar. Köln were not done, though, and Risse thrashed home on the volley to seal a 4-1 win, guaranteeing Köln's survival in the process.
Man of the match
Risse had not scored since May 2015 before leading the comeback in last week's 3-2 win at 1. FSV Mainz 05. With renewed confidence the flying winger scored two beautifully taken goals, the second of which took the wind out of Darmstadt's sails when the visitors had threatened to come back into the game.
Köln are assured of a third consecutive season in the top flight, and on this performance deservedly so. With Stuttgart playing Werder Bremen on Matchday 32, at least one of those two will drop points, meaning Köln can afford to lose their remaining three games and still stay up.
- FC Bayern München's Franck Ribery, with 70 Bundesliga goals, is the only Frenchman to have scored more than Modeste's 32 in Germany's top flight.
- Modeste is the first Köln player to score more than ten goals in a Bundesliga season since Lukas Podolski in 2011/12.
- This was Darmstadt's sixth Bundesliga defeat against Köln. No team has a worse record against the North Rhine-Westphalia club.
- Having lost their previous four games at their RheinEnergieSTADION, this was a doubly welcome win for Köln, who have not lost five consecutive home games since the 2001/2002 season.Line-ups
Köln: Horn - Sörensen (Olkowski 79'), Maroh, Mavraj, Mladenovic (Heintz 46') - Lehmann (c), Hector - Risse, Osako, Gerhardt (Jojic 70') - Modeste
Darmstadt: Mathenia - Jungwirth, Sulu (c), Caldirola, Diaz (Kempe 70') - Gondorf, Holland - Heller, Vrancic (Garics 79'), Rausch - Wagner (Platte 86')