Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had given Schalke the lead late in the first half, but it was cancelled out straightaway by an impressive strike from Yuya Osako.
Schalke got nowhere in the second half, and it all fell apart in the latter stages. All three players from the Köln bench were involved as first Anthony Modeste gave them the lead, before Simon Zoller heaped the pressure on the Royal Blues.
Contrasting fortunes for Rhine-Ruhr rivals
Schalke’s start to their league campaign has been little short of disastrous. Defeats against Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich and Hertha BSC had left Markus Weinzierl under intense scrutiny already.
He made four changes to the side that lost to Hertha, bringing in Sascha Riether, Johannes Geis, Alessandro Schöpf and Max Meyer for Matija Nastasić, Benjamin Stambouli, Breel Embolo and Leon Goretzka.
Things have been much more pleasant for Peter Stöger, whose side had gone top overnight after Friday night’s 3-0 win against SC Freiburg, following victory against SV Darmstadt 98 and a draw with VfL Wolfsburg.
He would have to do without Leonardo Bittencourt, due to a muscle injury, but in his place came Miloš Jojić.
Osako strikes back after Schalke finally find league goal
Neither side could create any clear cut chances for much of the first half. It was a stodgy affair, with Schalke, as expected, dominating the ball but creating little, with Köln well organised and happy to sit back.
Marcel Risse went wide for Köln and Frederik Sörensen headed a corner straight at Ralf Fährmann, whilst for Schalke, Benedikt Höwedes’s header was saved by Timo Horn, and Nabil Bentaleb had a great chance deflected off Mergim Mavraj.
Ten minutes before half-time, the game came alive. Schöpf set up Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, whose shot was saved by Horn. Matthias Lehmann tried to head it anyway, only to find Riether. He passed to Bentaleb, who set up Huntelaar, who placed the ball over Horn and in.
At last they had a goal in the Bundesliga this season, but the lead didn’t last long at all. Köln built from a Jonas Hector throw-in, with Jojić cross to Modeste. He laid the ball off to Osako on the edge of the box, burying it in the back of the net. As for Huntelaar, it was his first league goal of the season.
Substitutes send Schalke into meltdown
Like the first half, it was a slow start to the second. Dominique Heintz and Osako and chances saved by Fährmann, whilst Naldo could only find Horn with a long range effort.
With just thirteen minutes left, Schalke were staring down the barrel as Modeste continued his hot scoring streak with his fourth of the season. He beat Fährmann with a first time shot from a well-placed cross from substitute Konstantin Rausch. He would be only the first of Stöger’s substitutes to contribute.
It could have got better before it got worse for Schalke, with Embolo presenting the perfect opportunity for Huntelaar to equalise. But it was saved by Horn. And then it did get worse.
Salih Özcan, just two minutes after coming off the bench, came towards the box from the left. He was grounded by a tangle with Naldo, but got back up, passed across to the other substitute Zoller, who was left with an easy finish with Fährmann beaten by the cross.
Chances came and went for Huntelaar and Meyer to claw something back, but Schalke’s fate was sealed, and their horrendous start, as well as Köln’s tremendous one, continued.