Daniel Didavi came off the bench to inspire Wolfsburg to a 2-1 comeback victory over Hoffenheim. Later on Sunday, Freiburg ensured Cologne were the fifth side of the weekend to spurn the chance to go third.
Wolfsburg 2 -1 Hoffenheim
(Arnold 50', Didavi 73' - Zuber 26')
Julian Nagelsmann's visitors dominated the ball early on, their intricate passing leaving the hosts chasing shadows. But it was a more direct approach that almost saw them break the deadlock after 15 minutes. Right wing-back Pavel Kaderabek's surging run was halted by a cynical Ricardo Rodriguez bodycheck and Karim Demirbay's free kick rattled the bar.
Shortly after, Wolfsburg's Bundesliga debutant Richedly Bazoer was perhaps a little fortunate to only be booked for raking his studs down Nadiem Amiri's legs as the hosts turned to a series of questionable challenges in an attempt to stem the tide. It didn't work. Hoffenheim worked Demirbay in to space and, after a strong run, his pass intersected two opposing players and Steven Zuber stroked the ball across the keeper and in to the bottom right-hand corner.
Valerien Ismael withdrew Bazoer at half time in favor of Daniel Didavi and the effect was instant. Didavi combined well with Mario Gomez to force a save from Oliver Baumann and from the resulting corner Max Arnold pinged a stunning left foot strike past the Hoffenheim keeper to level things up.
The equalizer sparked the game in to life and both sides went close, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Diego Benaglio combining to prevent Hoffenheim and Baumann saving with his legs from Yannick Gerhardt. It was Didavi who finally made the breakthrough, reacting first to a Mario Gomez knockdown to sweep home from close range.
Gomez was denied a fourth goal in five league games shortly after, when his effort was rightly deemed not to have crossed the line but Ismael's troops held on to claim a vital win that the French boss can take a lot of credit for.
Freiburg 2 –1 Cologne
(Grifo 32', Philipp 77' - Modeste 39')
Maximilian Philipp's second half goal secured another home win for Freiburg and completed a weekend of failures at the top of the Bundesliga.
The visiting side's woodwork played a starring role in the first half, with Marc Torrejon's free header hitting the post in the 19th minute before the crossbar combined with a deflection to defeat Thomas Kessler in the Cologne goal. Vincenzo Grifo was the beneficiary, his shot looping up off a Cologne defender before kissing the underside of the bar and dropping over the line.
Anthony Modeste got help from a more traditional source for the equalizer. Yuya Osako's precise through ball split Freiburg's defense and found Leonardo Bittencourt. His shot was saved but Modeste was there to tap in his 16th league goal of the season, more than he got in the whole of the last campaign.
Cologne's main man had the chance to extend his tally and Cologne's lead just after the break but could only hit the keeper when clean through. Replays showed the Frenchman was offside but the flag had stayed down.
It was to prove a costly miss when Freiburg's two brightest attacking sparks put them back ahead. Kessler palmed Grifo's free kick back in to play when he should have tipped round the post and Maximilian Philipp was on hand to gleefully gobble up the rebound.
The result means Cologne join Frankfurt, Dortmund, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin in missing the opportunity to go third in the table and means Bayern were the only side in the top seven to win.