Niko Kovac made three changes following the defeat to Leipzig a week ago. Sebastiaan Bornauw, Bartol Franjic and Luca Waldschmidt replaced Maxence Lacroix, Jakub Kaminski and Maximilian Philipp.
Steffen Baumgart opted for five alterations to the team that started against Stuttgart last weekend. Benno Schmitz, Jeff Chabot, Eric Martel, Mathias Olesen and Florian Dietz were replaced by Timo Hübers, Dejan Ljubicic, Ondrej Duda, Florian Kainz and Steffen Tigges.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a much worse start from an FC perspective. The first attack of the game produced the first goal. Wolfsburg moved down the right-hand side and Bartol Franjic managed to thread in Lukas Nmecha. The striker didn’t hesitate and picked out the bottom corner from 12 yards on the angle. FC responded quickly, however. Dejan Ljubicic and Florian Kainz both had promising openings but failed to test Koen Casteels.
Aside from Max Kruse’s header that went wide, FC went on to control the remainder of the first-half. 20 minutes after falling behind, Baumgart’s charges levelled. Kingsley Schindler picked out Florian Kainz, and his clever ball around the corner allowed Dejan Ljubicic to go through on goal and slot home with real composure.
Things got better 10 minutes later, as a superb move down the left ended in with Kainz playing in Jonas Hector. His low, curling cross was initially cut out by Paulo Otavio, only for the ball to deflect off of Casteels and into the Brazilian once more. Both could only look on as it trundled over the line.
There was late drama in the first-half to boot. Jan Thielmann was fouled on the edge of the area by Luca Waldschmidt, which was picked up on by the VAR. Dr. Matthias Jöllenbeck watched the incident back and pointed to the spot. Florian Kainz kept his cool to send Casteels the wrong way and the away end into raptures.
The second period began with a change. Niko Kovac opted to bring off former FC man, Sebastiaan Bornauw and replaced him with Omar Marmoush. The Egyptian was dangerous following his introduction but FC were making all the running. Jan Thielmann couldn’t get the ball under control on the break before Ellyes Skhiri fired into the side-netting and Kainz brought a fine save from Casteels.
From there on it looked as if the game would ebb away. There was little action of note until the 79th minute. Matthias Svandberg won the ball in the FC half and threaded in Lukas Nmecha, who again was able to beat Schwäbe to renew Wolfsburg hopes of a comeback. However, that hope lasted less than two minutes.
Kainz continued to be a thorn in the hosts’ side and it was again his pass that proved crucial. A long ball through to Sargis Adamyan saw the Armenian control with his head and went through on goal. He stayed calm and produced a controlled finish off both posts to seal the three points for FC. The remaining 10 minutes was suitably enjoyed by the travelling support from Köln.
A first away win of the campaign ensured that FC continued their unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season. The next game for Steffen Baumgart’s side sees them take on OGC Nice in the first game of the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage.
VfL Wolfsburg (3-4-1-2): Casteels – Bornauw (Marmoush 46’), Guilavogui, van de Ven – Baku, Franjic (Kaminski 74’), Arnold (Svanberg 74’), Paulo Otavio (F. Nmecha 74’) – Kruse – L. Nmecha, Waldschmidt (Parades 61’).
1. FC Köln (4-1-3-2): Schwäbe – Schindler, Kilian, Hübers, Hector – Skhiri – Ljubicic (Huseinbasic 88’), Duda (Adamyan 66’), Kainz (Martel 88’) – Thielmann (Maina 66’), Tigges (Lemperle 80’).
Goals: 1:0, L. Nmecha 2‘. 1:1, Ljubicic 22‘. 1:2, Paulo Otavio (OG) 31’. 1:3, Kainz PEN 45+2’. 2:3, L. Nmecha 79’. 2:4, Adamyan 81’.
Referee: Dr. Matthias Jöllenbeck (Freiburg).
Booked: van de Ven (38’), Duda (64’), Marmoush (82’).