The first of the Bundesliga's "English Week" mid-week games threw up some interesting results on Tuesday night and made things at the top very tight indeed.
Claudio Pizarro returned from injury to boost Bayern's title challenge
With a bank holiday weekend on the horizon, the results from the first Week Ten games will have been watched very closely by those playing on Wednesday.
Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro left his injury woes behind him with a brace of goals for Bayern Munich in a telling 2-0 win over Bundesliga leaders VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday.
Pizarro's first goals of the season following a back injury gave Bayern's title aspirations a boost and brought Wolfsburg back down to earth although they retained their one-point lead over Bayern and VfB Stuttgart.
"Claudio is very important for us and we have missed him," admitted Bayern coach Felix Magath. "He can hold the ball up and we play a lot better with him in the team."
Bayern playmaker Michael Ballack was forced to watch from the stands along with his fellow German international Sebastian Deisler, who is recovering from his relapse into depression. Their absence handed a chance to teenager Bastian Schweinsteiger, 19, and he grabbed it with both hands.
Young blood drives Bayern on
Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger was in outsatnding form against Wolfsburg.
In the ninth minute Schweinsteiger -- who was one of the few Germans to impress at Euro 2004 -- produced a powerful drive from 25 yards and it took a fine save from Simon Jentzsch to push the effort onto the crossbar. It was a warning that Wolfsburg failed to heed, and a rampaging run from the effervescent Schweinsteiger created the opening goal on 24 minutes.
He ghosted past two defenders before a clever reverse pass played in Pizarro to slot home. "Schweinsteiger produced a brilliant pass and I just had to slot it in," said match hero Pizarro.
It was the Peruvian international's first goal of the season, and his second -- when he nudged home an Owen Hargreaves cross on the chime of half-time -- helped ease the pain of his recent injuries. The South American star could even have netted a hat-trick but a chance on the hour mark rebounded off the post to safety.
"We wanted to play on the counter attack but Bayern were just too good," acknowledged Wolfsburg boss Erik Gerets.
BVB win placates rabid fans
Elsewhere Borussia Dortmund gave their irate fans something to cheer about with a 1-0 win at Hertha Berlin. Hundreds of Borussia fans prevented the team bus from leaving the home stadium on Saturday after a 2-0 defeat to SV Hamburg, but on Tuesday smiles were back on some faces after Borussia climbed from 15th to a more respectable 11th.
"It is only the first step but a very important one," explained Dortmund manager Bert van Marwijk. "I have a feeling that things are now going to improve."
Dortmund's Jan Koller won an important game for BVB.
Hertha meanwhile were left feeling dejected after hitting the woodwork three times in the first 30 minutes against Dortmund. Borussia rode their luck and Czech striker Jan Koller netted the winner on 44 minutes to move the club away from the relegation zone.
Kaiserslautern rooted to the bottom
The noose is tightening, however, around the neck of Kaiserslautern coach Kurt Jara following a 3-1 defeat by Hanover. Kaiserslautern are bottom of the table after conceding 20 goals in 10 matches but the victory lifted Hanover into the dizzy heights of fourth.
The loss added more pressure of Lautern boss Kurt Jara. Kaiserslautern chairman Rene Jaggi said after the match Jara would remain in place at least until Sunday, a statement considered to be a kiss of death in soccer circles.
Hanover have now won five matches on the trot but perfectionist coach Ewald Lienen felt his side had fortune in an finely balanced match. "I was pleased with us going forward. What I didn't like was that we had problems in defense," he said.
Bochum reverse losing streak
Bochum fans have something to cheer about at last.
VfL Bochum, following four consecutive defeats, beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-0, helped in part by the dismissal of 'Gladbach's Jeff Strasser just before the hour mark. It was a relief for Bochum coach Peter Neururer who recognized his players had been nervous at the start before growing in confidence after the break but he cannot fully relax as yet. Bochum still hover over the drop zone in 14th spot.