Victory in Köln sees SCF break record


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Since the introduction of three points per win, SCF have never earned more than 55 points in a season – four games before the end of 2022/23, the team has already won 56. “We had an incredible goalkeeping performance today, and some good spells in both halves. We defended like madmen at the end. Today the luckier team won, not the better team,” analysed Christian Streich after the full-time whistle.

Streich and his coaching staff made one change to the team which started the 4-0 win against Schalke 04 last weekend, as Maxi Eggestein replaced the suspended Yannik Keitel. Steffen Baumgart kept the same Köln side as which started their 3-1 win over Hoffenheim last time out, which officially secured their safety for another season.

Saturday afternoon’s game was the first of an exciting final few weeks of the season for the Breisgau team, who had given themselves a great chance of reaching European football once more with wins over Werder Bremen and Schalke in the preceding weeks.

Flekken on fire in goal

The match between the Bundesliga’s 11th- and 4th-placed sides did not take long to get going. The hosts were particularly lively in the opening stages, winning the ball back time and again in midfield. As SC’s defence also started the game well, there were only half-chances available for Baumgart’s men.

A long-range effort from Florian Kainz in the 16th minute was the first shot on goal, which Mark Flekken had covered in the SCF goal. It was also Flekken who denied the next Köln attempt, saving well once more from Kainz on 22 minute and then parrying a header over the bar just two minutes later. At the other end, a Lukas Kübler volley from long range was some distance over the bar on 18 minutes.

Creating chances was tough for Freiburg against the compact Köln side – it took a full half-hour for Effzeh ‘keeper Marvin Schwäbe to be called into action. Lucas Höler took aim from a tight angle following fine set-up play from Ritsu Doan, but the shot-stopper’s leg denied him.

The Freiburg team gradually improved in the half, finding some dangerous spaces and good interplay. Christian Günter and Philipp Lienhart both had chances to take the lead, but the best attempt of the opening 45 fell to Höler, whose half-volley was tipped over the bar by Schwäbe on 43 minutes. That was the final action of an entertaining first half.

Doan heads home for the lead

The second 45 started in the same vein as the first ended – with a chance for SCF. Michael Gregoritsch powered through after being set up by Höler, and his left-footed attempt from 13 yards forced a fine reflex save from Schwäbe on 47 minutes.

Seven minutes later, the deadlock was broken. A left-sided corner from Höler found Ritsu Doan at the near post – the Japan international got his head to the ball and the ball flew in – 1-0 to Freiburg on 54 minutes!

Köln coach Baumgart reacted to the goal with an attacking change, but the game’s next chance fell to Freiburg and Eggestein. His long-range shot was too hot for Schwäbe to handle, but Gregoritsch was unable to put the rebound in from the angle, just before the hour mark.

Köln press for an equaliser

The hosts looked to find their front men time and again with long balls, and the Freiburg defence was forced to sprint back equally as often. This was generally the story of large parts of the second half. In the 67th minute, Lienhart forced his own ‘keeper into a strong save, mishitting a clearance following a cross from the by-line.

Streich made his first substitutions around the 70-minute mark, as Kiliann Sildillia and Roland Sallai replaced goalscorer Doan and Vincenzo Grifo – SCF set up in a back five and looked to weather the ever-growing Köln pressure. Substitute Steffen Tigges was especially dangerous, creating chaos in the SC defence and having two shots on goal around the 80th minute. “I have to say well done to Köln, they were fantastic in the last half-hour. We didn’t manage to free ourselves from the pressure constructively,” said Streich.

Nerves were jangling for both sides in the closing stages. Effzeh penned SCF deep in their own half, but did not create any dangerous opportunities. There was five minutes of added time, which Freiburg dealt with perfectly before Tobias Reichel blew his final whistle and sent the 5,000 away fans into party mode.

There is everything on the line this Tuesday night, as RB Leipzig visit the Europa-Park Stadion fir the DFB-Pokal semi-final. Kick-off is 20:45 CEST in Freiburg.

Photo: Marco Steinbrenner


Victory in Köln sees SCF break record

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