While Dortmund cruised to their 31st unbeaten Bundesliga game on Saturday, with a 3-0 win over Leverkusen, Hannover edged one of the most thrilling north German derbies ever, beating Bremen 3-2 with an overhead kick.
The champions took on Bayer Leverkusen under the watchful gaze of Chancellor Angela Merkel, promoting the Bundesliga's "Go your own way" integration campaign. Dortmund made tough work of the game at first, but Leverkusen's defenses collapsed in the 29th minute, when defender Mats Hummels was left unmarked to nonchalently nod in a Marcel Schmelzer corner.
The resulting release of tension gave BVB's Polish star trio the chance to get into gear with a classic counterattack. With six minutes to go to the break, Robert Lewandowski won the ball in midfield and on the right found Lukasz Piszczek, who sent it to Jakub Blaszczykowski to slam past Bernd Leno into the net.
Lewandowski himself sealed the deal in the 78th minute, with his headed goal from a free kick. It might not have been necessary in the context of the game, but the goal broke the Pole's duck in the new season. He scored 22 in the 2011/12 season, and the champions will be relying on a few more from him. It was also the 31st unbeaten game for Dortmund.
Rollercoaster northern derby
In a battle of the north with Bremen, Hannover got off to a flying start, tailed off in the second half, and then provided a climactic finish to a blockbuster contest that ended 3-2.
The star of the afternoon was undoubtedly Szabolcs Huszti. His free kick in the sixth minute put the home side in the lead, and the Hungarian then provided a perfect short cross to Leon Andreasen, who headed home just four minutes later.
Aaron Hunt got one back for Bremen from the penalty spot after a dodgy handball decision in the 26th minute, and then Werder slowly began taking control of the game. Kevin De Bruyne finally equalized for Bremen in the 74th minute, after a finely worked move across the penalty area.
Then it was all Hannover could do to keep Bremen at bay in the final 10 minutes - with a little help from both goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler's heroic efforts, and the referee, who disallowed a perfectly legitimate Bremen goal for offside. Then a last-ditch counterattack by Hannover was both started and finished by the brilliant Hungarian. Having initiated a move that went out wide to the left, Huszti blasted an overhead kick into the net in the dying seconds.
Little trouble for Bayern
Even without their injured superstars Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, Bayern Munich had little trouble in their 3-1 home victory over Mainz, formerly a bogey team for the Bundesliga juggernauts.
The rampant Bavarians were in a hurry against a hapless Mainz, whose tactical containment plan lasted less than two minutes - Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring with the simplest of goals for Bayern: With Mainz apparently shaking off their afternoon nap, Philipp Lahm won the ball in the opposition half and sent Thomas Müller into the penalty area with a nice vertical pass. His cross found the Croat unmarked barely two yards out, and his tap-in ensured that his prolific start to the season continued.
Bastian Schweinsteiger doubled the lead in the 13th minute: The defensive midfielder displayed his striker's instinct by reacting brilliantly to Holger Badstuber's cross, heading the ball into the net.
After making that cushion for themselves, Bayern rested on it for a while, and remained largely undisturbed by a toothless Mainz attack. But the little rest ended after an hour, when Dante's agricultural tackle on Julian Baumgartlinger gave Mainz a penalty, duly converted by Adam Szalai.
That set up a nervy end for Bayern, who could not repeat their easy dominance of the first 15 minutes, and it took a magical volley from Bayern's Toni Kroos in injury time to calm President Uli Hoeness' blood pressure.
Nuremberg secured a fantastic 3-2 win away to Mönchengladbach. Gladbach came back from two goals down, only to be undone by a diminutive Japanese midfielder playing out of his skin - Hiroshi Kiyotake is proving to be some excellent business for the Bavarians.
Timm Klose provided the faintest of touches to a free kick from Kiyotake to provide the first goal. The trajectory of the ball might not have altered much, but the Swiss man at least did enough to fool Gladbach goalie Marc-André ter Stegen. Nuremberg extended the lead in the 25th minute when yet another Kiyotake free-kick found the head of Timmy Simons in the middle.
But though the Gladbach crowd were subdued by the doubly whammy, the hosts worked themselves a lifeline on the stroke of half-time, thanks to the intervention of Dutchman Luuk de Jong - starting to earn his keep as the most expensive Gladbach signing of all time.
The ever-stronger Gladbach side then reeled in their visitors in the 53rd minute when Granit Xhaka - the Swiss midfielder, much admired in the international matches last week - struck from the edge of the penalty area. A deflection took the ball above goalkeeper Raphael Schäfer's outstretched hand.
But, having barely drawn a breath, Gladbach found themselves behind once again two minutes later, thanks to the irrepressible Kiyotake. Having supplied the cross for the first two goals, the Japanese kept his balance with Messi-like brilliance as he dribbled round the hosts' defense, and slotted home coolly.
Despite a number of chances in the closing stages, Gladbach could not make the equalizer they probably deserved, and Nuremberg walked off with a famous victory.
The other Bundesliga game, between Stuttgart and the promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf, ended 0-0, a grim game where Stuttgart's struggles to unlock their stubborn guests grew increasingly desperate.
No fun for Kissinger
Fürth's most famous son, Henry Kissinger, was in the Trolli Arena to see his boyhood team take on Schalke in Saturday's evening game. "I wish Fürth the title," the 89-year-old former US secretary of state said optimistically before Schalke's 2-0 win.
The Bavarian minnows, still getting used to the top-flight climate, were far too timid against the Royal Blues in the first half, though Schalke made heavy weather of it. Both sides stumbled and scrambled throughout the game, and Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, last season's top-scorer in the Bundesliga, had a particularly bad day at the office, missing two excellent chances in the first half.
It was left to midfielder Julian Draxler, himself profligate with a headed chance earlier, to strike a beautiful, swirling long-range effort into the top of the goal in the 48th minute. But that did not mark the beginning of a torrent of goals, and Huntelaar continued to struggle, at one stage getting bogged down in a crowd of Fürth defenders as he tried to shoot.
Fürth, meanwhile, overcoming their initial diffidence by necessity, battled manfully in the second half, running hard but failing to create chances. Lewis Holtby eventually settled this erratic contest in the 88th minute for Schalke, crowning a fantastic run into the box with an assertive finish after a pass from substitute Tranquillo Barnetta.