BERLIN — Nils Petersen scored with two late penalties — one in the 90th minute and another in injury time — as Freiburg came from three goals down to beat Cologne 4-3 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
"We were patient to the end. Football writes such stories," said Petersen, who also scored in the first half to start Freiburg's comeback. "It's bitter for Cologne. I'm sorry for the club, too."
Petersen's hat trick denied Cologne what would have been its first league win of the season at the 15th attempt, one week after Cologne fired Peter Stoeger as coach.
"It can't get any worse," Cologne defender Dominique Heintz said.
Stoeger was presented by Borussia Dortmund as its new coach earlier Sunday, after Dortmund responded to its league slump by firing Peter Bosz.
Kickoff in Cologne was delayed by a half-hour due to a snowstorm that continued as the game got underway.
The hosts raced into a three-goal lead. Lukas Kluenter opened the scoring in the eighth minute and Sehrou Guirassy added a second from the penalty spot before American midfielder Caleb Stanko's own-goal.
In a 30-minute span, Cologne scored half as many goals as it had in the previous 14 league games.
But Petersen pulled one back with a fine volley in the 39th, and Freiburg's Janik Haberer ensured a nervy finale when he scored midway through the second half after a period of prolonged pressure from the visitors.
Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn made a brilliant save and was called into action again and again before his overwhelmed side gave away two penalties. Petersen converted them both to complete an unlikely comeback.
"Everything is going against us," Cologne's interim coach Stefan Ruthenbeck said.
Cologne, bottom of the Bundesliga with just three points from 15 games, faces a seemingly hopeless task to avoid relegation after making the worst ever start in the league since its formation in 1963.
Freiburg remained in the relegation playoff place, some 12 points above last-place Cologne.
HERTHA'S LUCKY PUNCH
Salomon Kalou struck in injury time to salvage a 1-1 draw for Hertha Berlin at Augsburg, which dominated the game and looked to have earned the win through Caiuby's goal with a quarter-hour remaining.
"Football is like that, when the opponent wastes so many chances, such things happen," said Hertha coach Pal Dardai, who criticized his team's poor performance.
"We showed nothing. It's not in order. We were lucky to get the point," Dardai said.
Also Sunday, Hannover defeated Hoffenheim 2-0 at home.