A rare double from Dominik Maroh handed 1.FC Koln a 2-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen - their first away win at their Rhine rivals in more than four years.
The 28-year-old central defender doubled his tally for the season with a header in each half to help secure the points for Koln. Leverkusen equalized through Javier Hernandez, but played 40 minutes with ten-man following Kyriakos Papadopoulos' fourth Bundesliga dismissal in 87 appearances.
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Travelling in their thousands, the Cologne supporters made a hefty racket in the away block. But they came in hope rather than expectation: Koln have won just two of the last 20 Rhine derbies. The last visit to the BayArena for the Billy Goats was a 5-1 hammering last season and the previous victory in 2011 was a 4-1 trouncing.
Each coach made two changes from their previous encounters. Karim Bellarabi returned after his excellent cameo appearance in Rome on Wednesday, while Stefan Kiessling dropped to the bench. Koln boss Peter Stoger brought Maroh and Leonardo Bittencourt back into the fold after his side was held to a 0-0 draw at home to Hoffenheim last week.
Koln's two away wins this season - 3-0 at Schalke and 3-1 at Stuttgart - have been comprehensive in performance and the margin of victory. And the start made by the visitors was promising.
Leverkusen goalie Bernd Leno was called into action in the first few minutes as he reacted quickly to block Anthony Modeste's close-range shot. With the Frenchman in strong form this season - he has six goals in 11 league games - the Billy Goats always could rely on his strength and pace in attack.
In their last two home games, Schmidt's men have scored four goals in both. With Leverkusen, entertainment is usually part of the package - and their start was enough to give the punters hope. Hernandez's curling shot on 12 minutes was bound for the top corner if Timo Horn hadn't palmed the ball clear of danger.
But on 16 minutes, the visitors went ahead from a set-piece. The free-kick from Leonardo Bittencourt was flicked on by Leverkusen defender Kyriakos Papadopolous, straight into the path of Maroh who slid in at the back-post to finish.
While Leverkusen's attitude can be a little haphazard at times, former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Kevin Kampl has been a driving force since rejoining Bayer Leverkusen. The Slovenian's charging runs and delicate footwork was a constant nuisance for the Koln defenders.
Midway through the half, Kampl accelerated past his markers into the space between Koln's midfield and defense, but Horn pushed his shot from around 20 yards out past the post. And it was Kampl who was the catalyst for the equalizer on 33 minutes - he sidestepped past his opponent, sent the ball wide to Admir Mehmedi and his cross was headed home by Hernandez.
The Mexican's form in German football has been impressive with eight goals in his last six games for Leverkusen. His equalizer was the first time in his career that he has has scored in six consecutive matches for his club team.
Looking to freshen up his front line, Schmidt made his customary half time switch, replacing Bellarabi - who was carrying a knock from midweek in the Champions League - with youngster Julian Brandt.
But the momentum hinged on the decision to send off Papadopoulos on 54 minutes. The Greek defender cut across Modeste as the striker charged through on goal, giving the referee little choice but to opt for the red.
A minute later, Koln upped the pressure when Philipp Hosiner weaved his way out of the corner and shot over the crossbar as the visitors looked to turn the heat on Leverkusen. Andre Ramalho came off the bench to shore up Leverkusen's midfield, but that had marginal effect with the visitors taking full advantage of the numerical superiority.
Maroh fired a first warning on 71 minutes, heading Marcel Risse's corner kick wide of the post. But three minutes later, the Koln center-back rose highest in the box once again to bullet Risse's corner kick past Leno. The marking from the corner kick was shoddy at best, highlighting Leverkusen's defensive weaknesses.
Polish left-back Sebastian Boesnich almost landed a thunderbolt from 30 yards into the net, but his shot was just too high. Stoger's Koln held on doggedly at the end against the Leverkusen onslaught, securing their 14th win in the Rhine derby against Leverkusen in 57 attempts in the Bundesliga; a win that takes them above their rivals and into seventh place.