Borussia Mönchengladbach have completed a nervy 1-0 home win against 10-man Augsburg. The Foals took the lead with a penalty and dominated much of the game, but never managed to take out an insurance policy.
Augsburg, the worst team in Germany in the first half of this season, has resembled Houdini in breaking free from the relegation zone - putting together a splendid run of results that came to a halt in Mönchengladbach on Friday.
Borussia Mönchengladbach, on the other hand, notched up three points to stretch their unbeaten Bundesliga home run to seven games and move up to sixth in the table.
After a comparatively evenly matched opening period, Augsburg's hopes went up in smoke in the 26th minute. Gladbach's Peniel Mlapa broke through the defense and defender Kevin Vogt pulled at the German youth international's arm. Referee Dr Jochen Drees gave both a penalty and a red card for Vogt.
"I think you can give the penalty there, but I consider the red card to be a bit over the top," Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl told Sky television after the game. Mlapa, however, saw the matter differently when asked.
Gladbach captain Filip Daems made no mistake with his trusty left peg, sending Alex Manninger the wrong way and nestling the ball in the bottom corner.
Penalty-winner Mlapa enjoyed a lively first half, hitting the post moments after the goal and squandering a pair of decent chances earlier in the game.
Understaffed then out of breath
Augsburg continued to press forward with 10 men but the gaps in the visitors' back line began to grow. Patrick Herrmann and Roel Brouwers both had chances to stretch the lead in front of the Gladbach faithful in the terraces prior to the break, but neither hit the target to test Manninger.
Augsburg were missing key playmaker Ja-Cheol Koo and they struggled to create chances after going a man down. Gladbach, on the other hand, started to enjoy more and more room against their increasingly tired guests.
Mike Hanke hit the post from distance late in the second half in the best single opportunity, but poor shots and crosses from Gladbach caused a plethora of other promising attacks to fizzle out.
In stoppage time, substitute Knowledge Musona nearly salvaged an almost impossible point for the relegation-threatened Augsburg. Marc-Andre ter Stegen somehow got his standing right foot to a low close-range shot, providing precisely the insurance policy for three crucial points that his attacking colleagues were unable to deliver.
Sixth could be secure, with help from Schalke
Gladbach move up to sixth in the table - the final Europa League paying position - with Friday's win. In the event that Frankfurt fail to beat visitors Schalke, themselves in fourth, on Saturday, then Lucien Favre's side would stay in the lucrative last European qualifying spot.
In the weekend's other action, Bayern Munich play away to Hannover and Borussia Dortmund host Mainz. With an eye on midweek Champions League semifinals against Barcelona and Real Madrid, neither of Germany's top sides are liable to field their strongest available line-ups.
Seventeenth-placed Hoffenheim could close the gap on Augsburg, but might be hard pressed to pick up points in Leverkusen on Saturday. Hamburg host Fortuna Düsseldorf and to the north, Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg lock horns.
On Sunday, Freiburg travel to Stuttgart in a carbon copy of their German Cup semi final match on Wednesday - which Stuttgart won 2-1. European long-shots Nuremberg host bottom-of-the-table Greuther Fürth in the last match of the weekend.