Coming off their first win against Bayern in Munich since 1989, Bayer Leverkusen needed to show they could also win matches as the favorites. They did just that, beating Fortuna Dusseldorf 3-2.
Leverkusen came into the match with a chance to leapfrog Dortmund and move into fourth place in the table. Dusseldorf were just trying to halt a four-game slide that saw them drop to the nether regions of the table after a bright season start.
As expected, Leverkusen applied a lot of early pressure against their underdog neighbors. Yet it was just as Fortuna looked to have found their feet that the hosts struck.
Stefan Kiessling exploited a mistake in Dusseldorf's central defense in the 15th minute, slipping the ball to Sidney Sam. Sam then coolly chipped Dusseldorf keeper Fabian Giefer to open the scoring.
Leverkusen's technical superiority showed and, at around at around the half-hour mark, Leverkusen should have doubled their advantage. Sam lobbed in a cross, which André Schürrle volleyed, but Giefer somehow managed to deflect it onto the crossbar.
Dusseldorf grabbed a lifeline in minute 40 after a corner. Nando Rafael deflected in a header - the goal was a near carbon copy of the one that allowed Leverkusen to beat Bayern Munich in round nine.
But Dusseldorf's celebrations only lasted seventy seconds. Sam pushed the ball forward, and Schürrle pounced on his cross, lashing the ball into the top of the netting and ensuring that the hosts enjoyed a half-time lead.
Little happened after the restart until the 63rd minute, when Simon Rolfes was subbed in for Sam. The German national player saw a red card for a foul two minutes later - one of his shorter days at the office.
A curiosity - and the match got more curious still when, only two minutes further on, Daniel Carvajal caught out Dusseldorf on the break, passing to Gonzalo Castro who tapped in to make it 3-1.
Dusseldorf came back again, when Adam Bodzek hammered in a long-range shot with five minutes to go. And, although Leverkusen looked very nervous and could well have conceded an equalizer, the hosts rode out the rest of time and booked the 3-2 victory.
The win puts Leverkusen in the thick of the battle for next year's Champions League spots - something they'll no doubt think about when they face Rapid Vienna in the unloved Europa League on Thursday. Dortmund and Schalke face Real Madrid and Arsenal, respectively, in the big show on Tuesday.
Bremen, Mainz go end-to-end
Sunday's late match, which saw Werder Bremen hosting Mainz, started fast and furious. Nils Petersen pulled the ball back for Aarion Hunt to get the home fans cheering after just 10 minutes. The goal came somewhat against the run of play, as Mainz had good chances both before and after.
It was an entertaining, if at times frantic first half. Around the 30-minute mark, Bremen keeper Sebastian Mielitz made a very ill-advised foray outside his area, but Andreas Ivanschitz couldn't find the open goal.
The second half resembled the first. Bremen had more possession, but Mainz created the better chances. Ivanschitz missed a point-blank header in minute 53 that would have given his side a deserved equalizer. Mielitz came up big again.
But there was nothing Mielitz could do ten minutes later, when a Mainz cross found striker Adam Szalai in space, and the Hungarian headed in. It was his eighth goal of the season, tied for best in the Bundesliga.
The game was on a knife edge, and with five minutes left in regular time, it was Hunt who pushed toward a victory for the hosts. Bremen's oldest player - at the ripe old age of 26 - curled in a fine free kick from just outside the area. Mainz's spirit was broken, and Werder ran out 2-1 winners.
It was a very tight match between two offense-minded teams who may be capable of a bit more this season. Bremen are now seventh in the table ahead on goal difference ahead of Mainz.