After all the other pretenders lost on Saturday, it was up to Dortmund to try to overtake Bayern in their match against Frankfurt. And Jürgen Klopp’s men were able to grind out a tough 2-1 victory.
Bayern did their rivals a favor by dropping points in round 4, but until Sunday none of their competitors had been able to take advantage. So the pressure was on Dortmund as they visited Frankfurt.
Last year’s runners-up responded well. With only 10 minutes gone, Dortmund won the ball, and Jakub Blaszczykowski fed Henrikk Mkhitaryan. The Armenian playmaker coolly broke the ice.
Dortmund were the better side, but their Achilles heel - inefficient finishing - came back to haunt them. Instead of the men in yellow extending their lead, it was Frankfurt equalizing in minute 36. Takashi Inui hit a brilliant pass into the box, Stefan Aigner whacked the ball off the post, and Vaclav Kadlec cleaned up. It was the Czech striker’s first Bundesliga goal.
After the break, Frankfurt came out of the dressing room looking more lively, but Mkhitaryan put Dortmund back in front with a fantastic individual move and a low, rifled shot in minute 56. And that was to be all the scoring in a high-octane match that could have gone either way.
“Four victories are nice, but they shouldn’t obscure the fact that we need to improve,” the modest Armenian said after the match.
Frankfurt put up a brave fight and are much better than their current position in the table would suggest. Dortmund preserved their perfect season record and top the standings, two points ahead of Bayern.
Stuttgart destroy Hoffenheim
In Sunday’s early match, Stuttgart’s first league game under new coach Thomas Schneider, the hosts put their poor season start behind them, thrashing Hoffenheim 6-2.
Stuttgart, who crashed out of the Europa League during the week, were in make-amends mode right from the get-go and bossed the opening minutes. In minute 12 they were rewarded. Antonio Rüdiger put the hosts up 1-0 after a free kick was cleverly taken short. Seven minutes later, Vedad Ibisevic came flying into the box to meet a corner and doubled the hosts advantage.
Seven minutes after that, Kevin Volland handed the visitors a lifeline after Rüdiger deflected his shot. But Alexandru Maxim restored Stutttgart's two-goal advantage when he went past Hoffenheim keeper Koen Casteels and slotted home. Casteels will wish he had stayed on his line.
Things got no better for Hoffenheim's defence in the second half. Immediately, after the break David Abraham suffered a total blackout, and Ibisevic also left Casteels in his dust and bagged a brace. In minute 55, Maxim got his second goal with a lovely curled shot. And eight minutes after that, Ibisevic put a sixth goal past his old club.
"It was simply fun," Ibisevic told reporters after the match. "After all our difficult weeks, we just wanted to hit the gas."
The best things that happened to Hoffenheim were a late Roberto Firmino face-saver and the final whistle. They'll spend the international break in 11th place with five points. Stuttgart meanwhile get their first points of the 2013-14 season.