Markus Gisdol made two changes to the side which started in Bremen before the international break. Jorge Meré and Ellyes Skhiri came into the line-up in place of Sebastiaan Bornauw and Dimitris Limnios.
Urs Fischer, on the other hand, was forced into three alterations from the game against Bielefeld. Christian Gentner, Keita Endo and Joel Pohjanpalo all missed out as Sebastian Griesbeck, Marcus Ingvartsen and Taiwo Awoniyi earned a starting berth.
The game began as most would have expected, with both sides happy to see the ball when in possession and neither too keen to come forward. Union were trying their hand with long diagonal passes and one of those found Marcus Ingvartsen through on goal, though his effort was well off target. While Union were trying to find their way through with the long balls, FC looked to the counter.
As the half went on, Ismail Jakobs began to get more space on the left and had two good opportunities to test Andreas Luthe. The Union stopper was up to the task, however, and dealt with both. Despite the promise from FC, it was Union who went ahead. A long ball forward and a mix-up in defence meant that Taiwo Awoniyi was able to fire past Timo Horn.
However, FC managed to get level inside 10 minutes. Ondrej Duda, who had looked more dangerous as the half went on, put in a superb delivery to the far post and Ellyes Skhiri put his head where it hurts to nod home. A deserved equaliser for FC in what was a very even, if unspectacular, first 45 minutes in Müngersdorf.
The visitors were the better side after the restart and it took an important tackle from Noah Katterbach to deny Sheraldo Becker a path to goal. Rafael Czichos also made an important block before Grischa Prömel fired wide, in what was a strong start from Urs Fischer’s side.
Just as the game seemed to stabilise, Marcus Ingvartsen was fouled by Salih Özcan and Union had a penalty. Max Kruse failed to make history as his 16th spot-kick was saved by Timo Horn, but he was quickest to the rebound and fired in to restore Union’s advantage.
Markus Gisdol’s men pushed hard at the death as Elvis Rexhbecaj stung the palms of Luthe from range. It was Rexhbecaj again who almost earned a point for FC at the death. His dipping free-kick came back out off the post. The next game for 1. FC Köln will be on Saturday against Borussia Dortmund.
1. FC Köln (4-1-4-1): T. Horn – Wolf (Ehizibue 79’), Jorge Meré, Czichos, Katterbach (Thielmann 79’) – Skhiri – Drexler (Limnios 65’), Duda (Rexhbecaj 65’), Özcan (Arokodare 83’), Jakobs – Andersson.
1. FC Union Berlin (4-2-3-1): Luthe – Trimmel, Knoche, Friedrich, Lenz – Andrich (Ryerson 84‘), Griesbeck (Prömel 30‘) – Becker (Gießelmann 85‘), Kruse, Ingvarsten (Gogia 73‘) – Awoniyi (Teuchert 73‘).
Goals: 0:1, Awoniyi 27’. 1:1, Skhiri 36’. 1:2, Kruse 72’.
Referee: Patrick Ittrich (Hamburg).
Booked: Duda (31’), Ingvartsen (35’), Gießelmann (90+4’).