A homegrown player from Cologne has probably ended 1. FC Köln's dream of another season in the European Cup. Yannick Gerhardt, who trained at FC, scored the early opening goal in the fourth minute of the 2-0 (1-0) win in Cologne, laying the foundation for VfL Wolfsburg's fifth away win. Captain Maximilian Arnold added a penalty kick (68th).
The Lower Saxony thus consolidated seventh place, which will probably be enough to get into the Conference League at the end of the season. Cologne, who represented the Bundesliga in the smallest European Cup this season, could have come within a point of VfL if they won. After the second defeat in 2023 and the second in a row without a goal of their own, there are now seven of them. Coach Steffen Baumgart also stated before the game that he did not want to attack seventh place, but only look at staying up in the league.
After Denis Huseinbasic also fell ill for a short time, FC had to do without nine professionals. Before the game, the Cologne fans had put together an impressive red and white choreography through the entire stadium to celebrate the club's 75th birthday twelve days ago. Then, of all people, Gerhardt became the quick mood killer. The midfielder, whose shot slipped Marvin Schwäbe under his stomach, switched to FC at the age of nine, turned professional there and stayed for 13 years. Out of respect for his ex-club, he didn't celebrate, but the fans whistled loudly when his name was announced as the scorer.
FC keeps running
The people of Cologne didn't despair and kept running. However, they seemed tired, unimaginative and unfocused. Baumgart had brought up two real strikers in Steffen Tigges and Davie Selke, but most of the time the ball never got to them. The Wolfsburg were deep after the early lead and relied on their more mature game system. But as soon as it went towards the gate, they too became hectic. The best example was the action of Omar Marmoush, who centered the ball around eight meters in front of the goal and then slipped away (35').
At the end of a less than entertaining first half, there were a total of six shots on goal in the statistics, two for FC and four for VfL. No one had caused any real excitement since von Gerhardt's success. The second half wasn't really entertaining at first. Until Cologne defender Timo Hübers took heart and shot from around 30 meters (58th), Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels had hardly any problems with the ball.
The hope of a turnaround was finally gone when captain Jonas Hector fouled Wolfsburg's Kilian Fischer in the penalty area and Arnold safely converted. A minute before the end, Selke had Cologne's greatest chance, but Casteels made a good save. Then Hübers even scored, but was offside.