Steffen Baumgart opted for five alterations from the side that started against Union Berlin on Sunday. Benno Schmitz, Timo Hübers, Jonas Hector, Ellyes Skhiri and Florian Kainz were replaced by Kingsley Schindler, Nikola Soldo, Dejan Ljubicic, Ondrej Duda and Sargis Adamyan.
Martin Svedik made six changes from the Slovacko line-up that drew one-all with Mlada Boleslav at the weekend. Petr Reinberk, Michal Kadlec, Jan Kalabiska, Marek Havlik, Milan Petrzela and Ondrej Mihalik came in for Patrik Simko, Vlasiy Sinyavskkiy, Vladislav Levin, Daniel Holzer, Patrik Brandner and Filip Vecheta.
Ahead at the break
After Merchas Doski gave FC a wake-up call inside the first minute as his shot edged wide, Baumgart’s men took the lead after 10 minutes. A Linton Maina corner was flicked on by Luca Kilian and ready and waiting at the back post was Sargis Adamyan, who was tasked with a simple tap-in. That took the wind out of not only Slovacko’s sails but allowed FC to control the game a little more.
However, Slovacko soon became more involved in the encounter and had great chances to level. Petr Reinberk broke into the box after a flowing move and brought a fine, low save out of Marvin Schwäbe. That was not before Marek Havlik’s curler went inches wide of the far corner from 20 yards.
The final minute of the first-half brought a goal and excellent opportunities. Another Linton Maina corner proved crucial, the time it was a delivery from the other side and Florian Dietz’s header that brought about FC’s second goal. Doski was then denied brilliantly by Schwäbe once more before Dejan Ljubicic saw Tomas Frystak spread himself to keep out his one-on-one effort.
Dejo at the double
A breathless end to the first-half began was an equally eventful start to the second. Within four minutes, Slovacko had a lifeline and three minutes later they found an equaliser. Jan Kalabiska gave the visitors hope as he rattled home from 12 yards as FC failed to clear. Fast forward moments later and it was a similar story, as Milan Petrzela produced a moment of calm and quality to thunder home off the bar and send the away support wild.
Schwäbe, as was so often the case already, was called upon again to halt Kalabiska in another dangerous situation as the left-back broke through the middle. Baumgart reacted with a triple change, as Jonas Hector, Ellyes Skhiri and Timo Hübers replaced Nikola Soldo, Kristian Pedersen and Ondrej Duda. That change paid off just five minutes later.
Stanislav Hofmann brought down Dejan Ljubicic on the corner of the box. Yevhenii Aranovskiy pointed straight to the spot. Ljubicic dusted himself down and duly dispatched the ball into the back of the net, sending Frystak the wrong way. 10 minutes later, Ljubicic had his second. An excellent, long and determined run from Linton Maina saw him pick out the Austrian international to slide home from close range and seal the win.
After a long start to the season, FC go into the first international break at the top of UEFA Europa Conference League Group D. There is one final game before the pause, as Steffen Baumgart’s side travel to VfL Bochum. The Ruhrstadion plays host to FC on Sunday evening with kick-off at 17:30 CEST.
1. FC Köln (4-1-3-2): Schwäbe – Schindler, Soldo (Hübers 59‘), Kilian, Pedersen (Hector 59‘) – Martel – Ljubicic (Thielmann 78‘), Duda (Skhiri 59‘), Maina – Adamyan, Dietz (Tigges 70‘).
1. FC Slovacko (4-3-3): Frystak – Reinberk, Kadlec, Hofmann, Kalabiska – Travnik (Sinyavskiy 72‘), Danicek (Brecka 34‘), Havlik – Petrzela (Kohut 84‘), Mihalik (Kozak 84‘), Doski (Holzer 72‘).
Goals: 1:0, Adamyan 10’. 2:0, Dietz 44’. 2:1, Kalabiska 49’. 2:2, Petrzela 52’. 3:2, Ljubicic (PEN) 64‘. 4:2, Ljubicic 72‘.
Referee: Yevhenii Aranovskiy (UKR).
Booked: Duda (2’), Martel (36’), Maina (50’), Travnik (57’), Svedik (57’).