Cologne is a happy place this evening. An outstanding performance saw them race to a remarkable win over Werder Bremen on their return to Bundesliga action.
Speed check: The fastest player in the game after 90 minutes
Hector fires over
The Cologne captain fancies joining in on the scoring, but hits over from the edge of the box.
Could have been the eighth
The ball breaks nicely to to Ljubicic in the box during another neat Cologne attack. Pavlenka gets hands to his effort and turns it behind for a corner.
Applause for Maina
Here's been here, there and everywhere tonight. Linton Maina comes off now for debutant Justin Diehl.
Seven for Cologne
Maina has been another standout man for the hosts. He sets up another strike by pulling across from the left and Werder Bremen captain Marco Friedly accidently turns the ball into his own net.
Still getting about
While they aren't exactly darting forward in the same manner we saw earlier, Cologne continue to press into Werder Bremen - determined no doubt to avert taking any gloss off their sensational showing by conceding again.
Cologne have shocked Werder and comfortably outperformed their xG
Cologne in power-saving mode
The second Cologne brace scorer, Skhiri, is taken off. He was hobbling on his ankle a little, and with a trip to Bayern approaching on Tuesday, you suspect the hosts will be happy to preserve some strength in the final phases.
Celebrations aplenty for Cologne today - Huseinbasic after scoring their fifth
© Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Triple change from the hosts
Steffen Tigges gets showered with applause as he comes off. New signing Davie Selke is one of the trio brought on by Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart.
Skhiri with a sensational sixth
Yet more slick attacking play from Cologne sees them strike again in quite some style. Maina floats a cross in from the right and Skhiri executes a textbook leaping scissor kick to make it 6-1.
Tigges chance for a hat-trick
Maina does wonderfully to chase down the left and cut the ball back to Steffen Tigges. He has a chance for his third of the evening but smashes over.
A little bit of quiet?
Unsurprisingly, the second half hasn't quite matched the insane tempo of the first thus far. Both sides have knocked the ball around a bit without any chances in this period yet.
Cologne came absolutely hurtling out of the blocks in their first game of 2023
We're off again
No surprise to see Werder Bremen coach Ole Werner react at the break, making two changes. Cologne have the points virtually in the bag though after scoring five in the first half.
Special strike from Steffen Tigges just inside the opponents' half
Deep breath everyone
What an incredible performance from Cologne. They have swarmed all over Werder Bremen and stunned them with five goals.
What a half for Steffen Tigges - two goals and an assist
Five goals out of five shots on target - brutal efficiency from Cologne
Füllkrug heads one back
Niclas Füllkrug nods his 11th goal of the season in with his usual deadliness from a Ducksch corner. A glimmer of hope for Bremen?
Denis Huseinbasic joins the party! Cologne slice open the Werder Bremen defence at ease once more. Tigges is involved yet again, slotting a ball across brilliantly from the left that the Cologne right winger slots in for five.
The Cologne fans must be pinching themselves. Their team have tore into what was set to be difficult encounter and smashed their way into a seemingly unassailable lead in the opening 30 minutes.
Cologne simply cannot stop scoring in this incredible first half! Maina sweeps a ball in that Tigges skips over to let it run for Skhiri - the Tunisian promptly slots his first goal of the season in from short range.
Speed check: The fastest player in the game after 30 minutes
Skhiri and Maina celebrate after opening the scoring
Tigges smashes his second in the game from just inside the Werder Bremen half. Pavlenka rushes out of goal and the German striker slots in splendidly from a quite massive distance - 46.7 metres!
Martel goes close
The hosts are having plenty of fun right now in the Carnival City. They force another chance that sees Martel clip the ball just wide from the edge of the box.
What a dream start for Cologne! Kainz knocks the ball up to Tigges to split the Bremen defence open and a clinical finish doubles the hosts' lead.
Cologne have put the hard yards in during the opening stages to force their way in front
The hosts lead
Cologne punish a mistakenly taken Werder Bremen free-kick with a brilliant break. The ball gets played out to Linton Maina, who drills right across Pavlenka and in for the opener.
Werder Bremen show just the kind of pluckiness they've brought to the Bundesliga since gaining promotion. Bittencourt charges across the Cologne half but gets dispossessed and the hosts immediately attack.
A moment's applause for Pele
The Brazilian legend's life is celebrated with appreciation from the whole stadium.
The players are out
The lights are on, the stadium is rocking, having heard a rousing rendition of Cologne's club anthem - and we're about ready for kick off!
Marksman on a mission
Werder Bremen striker Niclas Füllkrug will be looking to press on today after an incredible start to the season that saw him bag ten Bundesliga goals (the joint second most) - and find the net at the World Cup.
The view inside Köln's dressing room ahead of kick-off
30 minutes to kick off
The Rhein Energie Stadion is filling up nicely ahead of Köln's first home meeting of 2023
Team news - Cologne
Winter signing Davie Selke has to make do with a place on the bench alongside Adamyan, with Tigges preferred up front. In midfield, Huseinbasic takes Duda's place, while Chabot is handed just his third start of the season in place of the injured Kilian.
Team news - Bremen
Head coach Ole Werner has made just two changes from his side's last competitive game, with Veljkovic and Gruev coming into the team in place of Pieper and Schmid.
Cologne starting XI
Schwäbe - Schmitz, Hübers, Chabot, Hector (c) - Skhiri, Martel - Maina, Huseinbasic, Kainz - Tigges
Horn, Soldo, Ljubicic, Schindler, Lemperle, Olesen, Adamyan, Selke, Diehl
Bremen starting XI
Pavlenka - Veljkovic, Stark, Friedl (c) - Weiser, Bittencourt, Groß, Gruev, Jung - Füllkrug, Ducksch
Zetterer, Pieper, Buchanan, Chiarodia, Stage, Burke, Schmidt, Mbom, Dinkci
Watch: All Niclas Füllkrug's goals so far this season
Bremen - the story so far
Bremen are four points better off than Cologne, in ninth, and are closer to the top four (six points) than the bottom three (seven). Only four teams have scored more than their 25 goals, while only Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt matches have produced a greater number of goals than Werder’s 52 in 15. They've also established themselves as the late-goal experts, with 11 after the 76th minute (accounting for 44 per cent of their total) and five beyond the 90th – both the most of any team in the division.
Cologne - the story so far
The Billy Goats begin the new year in 13th place. They're winless in five Bundesliga matches, losing four of them, but no longer have midweek European football to factor into the equation after going out of the UEFA Europa Conference League at the group stage.
With the Bundesliga action back in full flow, attentions turn to the first Saturday late fixture of 2023. Cologne have blown hot and cold so far this season, while Werder Bremen have taken to life back in the big time like a duck to water. Stay tuned to find out how this one shakes out...
Watch: Get ready for Cologne vs. Bremen!