Dortmund limped into their home clash against Bayern Munich with a raft of injuries, but for an hour, BVB were an equal match for the reigning champs. In the end, though, Bayern's depth made the difference.
Ahead of the most anticipated match in German football, and a replay of the 2013 Champions League final, many observers wondered how Dortmund would do with a makeshift back four including Manuel Friedrich, who until a few days ago was out of contract.
Coach Jürgen Klopp spoke of the need to press their visitors, but in fact Dortmund did the exact opposite, uncharacteristically lying back and trying to counter-attack. As a result, Bayern had two-thirds of possession in the first half, but Dortmund created the better chances.
In the second half, Bayern coach Pep Guardiola substituted in Mario Götze, who transferred from Dortmund to Munich this summer and who was roundly booed by the home crowd. And in minute 66, that move paid off, as the 21-year-old beat his former teammate Roman Weidenfeller with a low, hard shot.
Robert Lewandowski, who’s rumored to be heading to Munich next summer, had a golden chance to equalize four minutes later but could not get anything behind his header. And Marco Reus drew an excellent save from Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer only two minutes thereafter.
Bayern ultimately wore Dortmund out. Five minutes from time Arjen Robben was put through by a long pass from Thiago. The Dutchman calmly lobbed Weidenfeller to secure the three points for Munich. Thomas Müller made it 3-0 two clicks of the clock later to complete the scoring in what's become known in Germany as the German Clasico - or der Klassiker.
"The 1-0 was very important because they had to force things after that," Robben told reporters. "3-0 sounds like a very clear victory, but it wasn't that."
Munich now move a whopping seven points clear of Dortmund, who drop to third in the table.
Leverkusen move up a notch
Earlier the other member of the top three, Leverkusen, edged by Hertha Berlin.
Hosts Hertha got off to the better start in the first half hour on Saturday, but it was Leverkusen grabbing the lead. Jens Hegeler laid off to Stefan Kiessling who converted his side's first shot on goal. It was the striker's eighth goal of the season. Hegeler looked to be offside on the play.
The hosts no doubt felt somewhat unlucky to go into the dressing rooms down a goal and pressed throughout the second half. The Old Lady would end up owning 63 percent of possession and putting 12 shots on goal to Leverkusen's four. But they couldn't get the equalizer.
The 1-0 win was typical of Leverkusen's efficiency this season and meant they moved up to second in the table. It wasn't pretty, but coach Sami Hyypiä wasn't complaining after the final whistle.
"I'm very satisfied with the three points," the Finn said. "We put in a good defensive performance and scored one goal more than Hertha."
Meanwhile Hertha can claim seventh place - at least until Sunday.
Frankfurt overturn two-goal deficit
Eintracht Frankfurt's Johannes Flum got the scoring underway in his team's home match with Schalke after a quarter of an hour, but not as he would have liked. The youngster headed in an own goal past keep Kevin Trapp. And just a few minutes later, Joel Matip doubled the visitors' advantage, heading in a free kick.
Flum hit the post just before the break, but otherwise the first half clearly belonged to the Royal Blues.
The visitors looked to protect their lead after the restart, and they paid the price. Flum made up for his earlier mistake to give Frankfurt a lifeline. And on the hour mark, Joselu headed in a free kick to knot things up. And in minute 68, Joselu completed the hosts' comeback with a precisely placed shot from distance.
Schalke could count themselves lucky that Benadikt Höwedes equalized after a penalty-area scramble four minutes from time.
"For fans it was a dream game," Schalke coach Jens Keller remarked after the final whistle. "For us coaches, it was shere insanity."
The 3-3 draw means that Schalke stay sixth, while Frankfurt are just above the relegation zone.
Movement in the bottom half
In Augsburg. Halil Altintop put the hosts ahead 2-0 against a listless Hoffenheim with a pair of first-half goals. And that was all Augsburg needed to rack up a 2-0 win.
Eintracht Braunschweig versus Freiburg was, as expected for two teams near the bottom of the table, a real dogfight. The Lions generated the better chances in the first half, but the first 45 minutes ended goalless. After the restart, Gelson Fernandes put Freiburg ahead against the run of play. The 1-0 win took Freiburg third from bottom, while Braunschweig dropped to dead last.
Nuremberg were hoping to turn things round at home against Wolfsburg, and the Club came out fighting. But after 40 minutes rising star Maxi Arnold slipped a ball through hapless-looking keeper Raphael Schäfer to put the Wolves ahead.
The Wolves failed to put the game away with a number of opportunities, and with twenty minutes left, Daniel Ginczek went on a mazy run and leveled the score. The 1-1 draw has Wolfsburg staying fifth while the Club are second-to-last and still seeking their first season win.
On Friday, Mönchengladbach got a 2-0 away win in Stuttgart. The three points kept the Foals in fourth place in the table.
On Sunday, Hamburg host Hannover, and Bremen take on Mainz.