Bayern Munich have moved within five points of mathematically guaranteeing the Bundesliga title, winning 2-1 in Leverkusen. Borussia Dortmund overturned a first-half deficit against Freiburg with panache, winning 5-1.
Bayern Munich traveled to Leverkusen to face the only side that has beaten them so far in this Bundesliga season. The runaway league leaders put the record straight, winning by the same 2-1 scoreline that they suffered against Bayer Leverkusen at their Allianzarena back in October.
Despite fielding a second string side - of course still stuffed with international stars - Bayern looked in complete control in the first half. Xherdan Shaqiri and Arjen Robben looked lively on the flanks, while Bastian Schweinsteiger appeared to enjoy the creative freedom granted in Toni Kroos' usual position at the number 10 spot.
Mario Gomez was also given the nod up front, and he scored his seventh Bundesliga goal of the season in uncharacteristic style after 37 minutes. Gomez was in no man's land when he chested down a Shaqiri cross-field ball in the center circle; but he then lofted the ball over Dani Carvajal, turned Sebastian Boenisch inside-out, and slotted a neat finish under Bernd Leno. Renowned as a bit of a lumbering giant in attack, Gomez showed his Latin American heritage with this rare outburst of flair.
Leverkusen fans had comparatively little to cheer for throughout, save for a fairly solid defensive showing. Manuel Neuer's only real work in the Bayern goal was pushing aside a mid-range hit from Sebastian Boenisch. But Leverkusen were winning a lot of corners during their occasional attacks, and eventually, one of them paid.
Captain Simon Rolfes was all alone at the back post to volley in a ball that found its way across the box, tying the score with 15 minutes remaining.
Bayern had taken off attacking options like Gomez and Robben by this point – with Jupp Heynckes apparently seeking to hang onto the 1-0 advantage – meaning it was hard to see where a Bavarian winner might come from.
Ultimately, an excellent Bastian Schweinstieger free kick took a lucky bounce off defender Philipp Wollscheid and went into Bernd Leno's goal. Neither side really shone going forward, with both Bayern and Leverkusen managing to put only two shots each on target.
Bayern stretch their league lead to 20 points over Borussia Dortmund, and need just five more points to guarantee the title. Still, Bundesliga holders Dortmund might thank their rivals for putting some daylight between them and third-placed Leverkusen.
Dortmund recover in style
Borussia Dortmund fell behind to a Jonathan Schmid goal as overachievers Freiburg came to town on Saturday, setting the scene for fresh disappointment after last weekend's derby defeat against Schalke.
Coach Jürgen Klopp had unusually played both of his more creative holding midfielders, Nuri Sahin and Ilkay Gündogan, with the plan ultimately bearing fruit.
Sahin set up Dortmund's equalizer on 41 minutes with a long back-post free kick, headed home by Robert Lewandowski. This opened the pre-half-time floodgates.
Sahin then scored his first goal since rejoining Dortmund on loan, arriving to meet a low cross from Jakub Blaszczykowski. Lewnadowski added yet another moments before the break, leaving Freiburg coach Christian Streich's team talk in tatters.
Sahin fired home another late in the second half, before the ever-impressive Lewandowski brilliantly set up teen rising star Leonardo Bittencourt for Dortmund's fifth with just over 10 minutes to play. The win secures second place for the reigning champions, at least for another week.
Nuremberg deny Schalke
Nuremberg stretched their Bundesliga unbeaten run to seven games when Schalke came to town, despite the visitors looking in the ascendancy for much of the game.
As Schalke spurned chance after chance, Nuremberg took three of theirs. Markus Feulner, Alexander Esswein and Maik Frantz scored the goals, with Hiroshi Kiyotake notching up a pair of slick assists.
Captain and defender Benedikt Höwedes was among the most unlucky in Schalke's ranks. On one of his frequent forays forward in the second period, Höwedes could only hit the post.
Augsburg continue their climb
Perhaps infested with Vatican fever, Augsburg mixed Latin and German on their Twitter feed after a 1-0 win in Hamburg, happily exclaiming: "Habemus Punkte!" They do indeed have points - another three of them - lifting them two clear of Hoffenheim in the battle to dodge the drop.
Captain Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker made the difference early in the game, getting his head to a Tobias Werner free kick.
Hamburg drop to seventh, out of the European qualifying positions, as a result. Borussia Mönchengladbach are also theoretically in striking distance if they can beat Hannover on Sunday evening.
Fürth snatch a point in Bremen
In a marked break from the norm, Greuther Fürth scored one point and two goals on Saturday. Perhaps visiting the Bundesliga's worst defense - Werder Bremen have conceded 51 goals in 26 league games - was just what the doctor ordered.
Stephan Fürstner and Thanos Petsos turned a 1-0 deficit into a Fürth lead within the space of seven minutes early in the second half.
Both of Bremen's goals came from the penalty spot. Aaron Hunt dispatched the first with an impudent lack of power, wrong-footing Max Grün in the Fürth goal. Hunt put a little more juice into the second spot kick on 70 minutes, but Grün came very close to palming it wide of the post.
In the afternoon's fifth and final game, Hoffenheim and visitors Mainz were equally unable to find the net.