Dortmund extended their record unbeaten run to 25 games with a 2-1 win over their favorite enemies Schalke. Unusually, Jürgen Klopp's men were not necessarily the better side in this one.
Schalke came into the match with double motivation: extending their lead over fourth-placed Mönchengladbach for the final automatic Champions League spot and putting a dent in their hated rival's march to a second successive league title.
And Schalke were the slightly better team in the first half, grabbing a deserved lead in the 6th minute when Jefferson Farfan's powerful, deflected shot went in.
But 10 minutes later, Dortmund's Lukas Piszcek blasted home left-footed from just outside the area - a shot that was all the more impressive because the Polish defender is right-footed.
The second half was much the same story. Only Schalke failed to convert any of their chances, and after a corner, created confusion in front of the Royal Blues' goal, Sebastian Kehl poked home the game winner in the 62nd minute.
“The win makes it more likely that we’ll win the championship,” Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp, told reporters after the match. “But we’re not putting the champagne on ice just yet.”
But a few cold beers are probably not premature. In Saturday’s late match against Mainz, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes rested a host of regular starters, including Franck Ribery, Mario Gomez and Philipp Lahm.
It was a signal that Bayern’s main focus is on their Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid on Tuesday. And the result was an almost predictable scoreless draw against a plucky Mainz squad.
Dortmund now have a nearly insurmountable eight point lead in the standings with three games left to play.
Breathing space for Hamburg, Augsburg
Elsewhere, Hamburg looked like a team transformed in their home match against Hanover. Heung-Min Son put the hosts ahead early in the first half, and their defense, shaky all season, held strong to clinch the 1-0 win.
Augsburg's trip to Wolfsburg got off a to a curious start, when Wolves defender Alexander Madlung looped one into his own goal off Torsten Oehrl's foot in a botched clearance attempt. But Wolfsburg's class showed, and Patrick Helmes had the thing back level before half an hour.
The Wolves failed to convert a host of second-half chances, though, and just before time, a free kick found the head of Augsburg defender Sebastian Langkamp who sealed a surprise 2-1 win for the underdogs.
Those two results take both teams away from the relegation zone, although Augsburg still have a brutal run-in.
Wild ride in Leverkusen
Hertha Berlin, playing with a makeshift back four, held tough for almost the entire first half in Leverkusen. But Andre Schürrle showed his skill with a powerful blast from outside the box to open the scoring. And Stefan Kiessling doubled the hosts' advantage just after the restart.
A goal by Pierre-Michel Lassoga gave Berlin a lifeline, but Hertha appeared to shoot themselves in the foot when Levan Kobiashvili earned a red card and a penalty for Leverkusen.
Hertha's keeper Thomas Kraft parried Simon Rolfes' spot kick, though, and short-handed Berlin went on a tear, taking the lead on a pair of goals by substitute Tonay Torun.
Kiessling dampened Berlin's celebrations somewhat with the equalizer five minutes from time to cap off a 3-3 thriller.
At home to Nuremberg, cellar-dwellers Kaiserslautern did what they do best, putting up a spirited fight, failing to score and getting caught out on the break by Daniel Didavi to fall behind in the first half. Tomas Pekhart finished them off with a goal 15 minutes before the final whistle.
The 2-0 loss means Lautern will be relegated on Sunday, if Cologne earn a point in their match.
Stuttgart push for Europe
On Friday, Stuttgart extended their unbeaten run to nine games, coming from behind to record a 4-1 win over Bremen. Striker Martin Harnik picked up a brace in that match.
The win solidified the fifth-placed team's bid for a spot in next season's Europa League. And Stuttgart even have a chance of cracking the top four and qualifying for the Champions League.
Fourth-placed Mönchengladbach play self-destructing Cologne in Sunday's early match. The Foals will be looking for all three points in that encounter to keep Stuttgart at bay.
And Sunday's late match features Freiburg versus Hoffenheim in a battle for southwest German bragging rights.
Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Nicole Goebel