Steffen Baumgart made three changes to the team that started against Leipzig. Benno Schmitz, Jeff Chabot and Kristian Pedersen replaced Kingsley Ehizibue, Luca Kilian and Eric Martel.
Michael Boris opted for four alterations following the 4:0 defeat to Ferencvaros at the weekend. Claudiu Bumba, Marcel Heister, Ivan Petryak and Kenan Kodro dropped out for Kasper Larsen, Szilveszter Hangya, Funsho Bamgboye and Budu Zivzivadze.
The game started so well. FC were in control and had the first chance of the match but Dejan Ljubicic couldn’t get clean contact on Jan Thielmann’s cross. It didn’t take long until the first goal came, however. Ljubicic played in Florian Dietz who bullied past his defender and slotted home coolly when one-on-one with Daniel Kovacs. Just five days after his first Bundesliga goal, his first in Europe followed.
Just six minutes later, the game turned on its head. Jeff Chabot, as the last man, brought down Palko Dardai after a long ball forward. Funsho Bamgboye had a great chance to equalise after the half-hour but couldn’t find the target from 12 yards. The next attack did bring the leveller. Loic Nego produced an excellent cross from the right-hand side and Buda Zivzivadze headed home off the underside of the bar from six yards out.
Just before the break, things got worse. Zivzivadze was involved again as he broke through the middle of the pitch. He slipped the ball into the path of Dardai, who then produced a stunning finish that flew past Marvin Schwäbe on the angle. What had been a comfortable 20 minutes had turned into a deficit at the half-time whistle.
Steffen Baumgart made one change at the break as Luca Kilian replaced Kristian Pedersen. Fehervar, who had the lead, were keen to let FC try and find a way through in the second period. They backed off and allowed FC the ball, but an opening was not forthcoming. Fehervar were proving to be a tough nut to crack, defending every cross with plenty of passion.
The best two chances fell to Linton Maina, who came on at the hour mark. He twice picked up passes in the left-hand channel from Jonas Hector. The first slid wide of the far post, the second cracked against Kovacs’ shins, onto the upright and out to safety. Half chances followed but there would be no equaliser against the Hungarian guests.
The second leg will take place on Thursday at 19:00 CEST at the MOL Aréna Sóstó. Before the return fixture, FC are in action on Sunday at 15:30 CEST against Eintracht Frankfurt at the Deutsche Bank Park.
1. FC Köln (4-2-3-1): Schwäbe – Schmitz, Hübers, Chabot, Pedersen (Kilian 46‘) – Skhiri, Hector – Thielmann (Maina 60’), Ljubicic (Olesen 76’), Kainz (Adamyan 76’) – Dietz (Tigges 76’).
Fehervar FC (3-4-2-1): Kovacs – Larsen, Stopira, Shabanov – Nego, Pinto (Pokorny 90+4’), Fiola, Hangya – Bamgboye (Lednev 86’), Dardai (Heister 81’) – Zivzivadze (Lüftner 90+4’).
Goals: 1:0, Dietz 15’. 1:1, Zivzivadze 32’. 1:2, Dardai 40’.
Referee: Tiago Martins (POR).
Booked: Larsen (24’), Baumgart (48’), Hangya (55’), Fiola (58’), Ljubicic (68’), Dardai (69’), Zizivadze (86’), Hector (90+5’).
Sent-off: Chabot (21’).