Borussia Mönchengladbach rolled into Nuremberg with the chance to pass Bayern Munich. But hosts Nuremberg had other ideas, pulling off a patient 1-0 upset win. Cologne and Hoffenheim, meanwhile, ended 1-1.
Host Nuremberg's strategy was clear from the get-go: circle the wagons and get as many men behind the ball as possible.
As a result, Gladbach had roughly 70 percent of possession in the first half but could only get off a couple of early shots on goal, which Nuremberg keeper Raphael Schäfer parried with relative ease.
Meanwhile, with "the Club," as Nuremberg are often known, rarely venturing into Gladbach's half, the Foals had few opportunities to launch their patented counter-attacks. Fleet-footed youngster Patrick Herrmann, out with a broken collarbone, was sorely missed.
It was more of the same in the second half, the only difference being that Nuremberg began to pose something of a threat from set pieces.
Then, in the 87th minute, just as the match looked to be heading toward a draw, Juan Arango lost the ball in midfield. Two quick passes later, reserve striker Albert Bunjaku netted the game winner.
"We weren't decisive enough and lacked movement," Lucien Favre admitted after the match. "We would have settled for 0-0 and only have ourselves to blame."
The result means Gladbach stay in third in the standings, one point behind Bayern Munich and eight behind Dortmund.
Sunday's late match between Hoffenheim and Cologne saw far more scoring chances. Hosts Hoffenheim benefited from their superior individual skills and dominated the first half, going ahead after half an hour on a header by Marvin Compper.
Little was going right for the visitors, and it looked only a matter of time until Hoffenheim would get that all important second goal.
Ryan Babel nearly blasted one in from 22 meters just before the hour mark, and substitute striker Sven Schipplock blew two golden opportunities from close range a few minutes later.
Colognedecided the best defense would be a bit of offense and were promptly rewarded. Miso Brecko made his way up the right flank, and Lukas Podolski headed his precise cross into the far corner.
1-1 was the final score - not a result that did either side any real good.
Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Darren Mara