Friedhelm Funkel made one change to the starting line-up against Augsburg. Kingsley Ehizibue returned from his suspension to replace Benno Schmitz at right-back.
Christian Streich opted for five alterations to the side that began the game against Hertha BSC. Florian Müller, Keven Schlotterbeck, Jonathan Schmid, Baptiste Santamaria and Lucas Höler dropped out for Mark Flekken, Lukas Kübler, Yannik Keitel, Vincenzo Grifo and Nils Petersen.
It was a game that took a while to get going and one of few chances in the early stages. Freiburg’s first opening was a looping Philipp Leinhart header, while Ondrej Duda’s free-kick was FC’s only effort on goal in the first 15 minutes. It felt like a mistake would provide the first real opportunity and that was the case. Ellyes Skhiri failed to clear in the area and Nils Petersen fired home from close range.
Things got worse just two minutes later as Roland Sallai crossed to the back post and Vincenzo Grifo. He managed to tee up Ermedin Demirovic, who was in the right place at the right time to tap the ball over the line. The remainder of the first half produced little going forward for FC, while Timo Horn had to be alert to deny Roland Sallai sliding in one-on-one.
Ismail Jakobs replaced Marius Wolf at the break and the youngster made an immediate impact on the left-hand side. He crossed into the centre of the penalty area and Sebastian Andersson swivelled superbly to send his half-volley past Mark Flekken in the Freiburg goal. The goal gave FC life once more as Friedhelm Funkel’s side went in search of an equaliser.
That chance came after a VAR check confirmed that Jakobs was fouled in the box by Lukas Kübler. Ondrej Duda stepped up but slipped just before making contact, sending his spot-kick over the crossbar. The penalty took the wind out of the sails somewhat, though Freiburg were finding it much more difficult than in the first half.
After a superb stop from Timo Horn denied Vincenzo Grifo, a long ball forward towards Jonas Hector saw Jan Thielmann slam home. However, Marco Fritz disallowed the goal for a supposed handball from the FC captain. Freiburg then killed the game off with two late counters, as Grifo and Jonathan Schmid rounded off the scoring. FC are next in action on Saturday 15:30 CEST against Hertha BSC.
1. FC Köln (4-2-3-1): T. Horn – Ehizibue (Meyer 76‘), Bornauw, Czichos, J. Horn – Skhiri (Özcan 76‘), Hector – Wolf (Jakobs 46‘), Duda, Kainz (Drexler 65‘) – Andersson (Thielmann 65‘).
SC Freiburg (4-4-2): Flekken – Kübler, Gulde (Schlotterbeck 84‘), Lienhart, Günter – Sallai (Schmid 58‘), Höfler, Keitel (Santamaria 66‘), Grifo – Petersen (Haberer 66‘), Demirovic (Höler 58‘).
Goals: 0:1, Petersen 18’. 0:2, Demirovic 20’. 1:2, Andersson 49’. 1:3, Grifo 90+3’. 1:4, Schmid 90+6’.
Referee: Marco Fritz (Korb).
Booked: J. Horn (37’), Demirovic (41’), Andersson (47’), Lienhart (82’).
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