Pressure was ramping up on André Schubert, especially after mulling over the loss to Hertha BSC for a fortnight. With that in mind he made four changes as Tony Jantschke, Patrick Herrmann, Christoph Kramer and Jonas Hofmann were replaced by Andreas Christensen, Ibrahima Traoré, Mahmoud Dahoud and Thorgan Hazard.
For Peter Stöger, this week's build-up centred around the goalkeeping dilemma. With Timo Horn out injured, Thomas Kessler was handed a starting berth as the only alteration from the 1-0 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt before the break.
Worth waiting two months for
The Rhine Derby hasn't disappointed in recent years and the entertainment value was high from the get-go. Anthony Modeste was threaded through on goal only to be denied by Nico Elvedi's timely block, before a superb stop from Kessler managed to turn Hazard's powerful volley over the bar.
The end-to-end nature of the game was not letting up as Kessler continued to play a hugely important part behind his back four. The veteran stopper was fulling justifying his inclusion with an assured performance, keeping confidence high as Yuya Osako and Modeste found it tough to give their defence some respite.
Yet patience and persistence would prove crucial as the Foals went ahead. After Wendt's cross wasn't picked up by a Gladbach player, Traoré rescued the situation at the back post and picked out Stindl's run across goal to the near post, and a sweeping first time finish left the impressive Kessler with no chance from six yards.
Tempers flared after the opener, as three visiting players quickly found themselves in Manuel Gräfe's notebook. Köln could then count themselves lucky to not be further behind when free-kick from the lively Traoré cannoned back off the crossbar, with Kessler nowhere near reaching his effort.
Risse comes up with a stunner
Initially, it was the hosts who began the stronger side as Hazard came closer still to that crucial second goal. His shot across goal zipped narrowly wide of the post. Köln finally awoke from their tired attacking display as both sides tried to force the issue from wide areas, yet couldn't quite connect when it mattered most.
However, the constant crossing eventually did pay dividends but in a far from conventional fashion. In what was the most hopeful ball of the lot, Modeste rose highest and had a header blocked by Jannik Vestergaard. Unfortunately for Gladbach, it rebounded back into Modeste's head and left Yann Sommer scrambling, unable to keep it out.
Yet the Billy Goats still had to thank 'keeper Kessler, who continued to thwart the hosts' advances and made another stellar stop to deny Dahoud from close range.
Fouls began to rid the game of momentum, but it would be from a dead that the game was won. An indirect free-kick was given 35 yards from goal, and a simple lay-off was met by a quite incredible strike that dipped, ducked and swerved just out of Sommer's reach into the top corner to give his side a late, great 2-1 win.