Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s superb second-half goal sealed Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 win over Hanover 96 on Saturday to trim Bayern Munich’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga to five points.
Dortmund were without injured star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who missed his first league match of the season having netted 20 goals in as many league games.
In his absence, Mkhitaryan showed superb individual skill for the winner at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.
With Marcel Schmelzer screaming up in support on his left, Mkhitaryan cut back inside and curled his right-footed shot around Hanover’s Germany goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler on 57 minutes.
With Pep Guardiola’s Bayern at Augsburg on Sunday, Dortmund remain second while Hanover are rooted to the bottom, seven points from safety.
Wolfsburg warmed up for Wednesday’s Champions League, last 16, first-leg at Ghent with a 2-0 win at home to Ingolstadt to pick up their first victory since knocking Manchester United out of Europe in December.
Dieter Hecking’s Wolfsburg won for the first time in six games but stay eighth after first-half goals goals by Germany midfielder Julian Draxler and defender Robin Knoche.
Bayer Leverkusen moved up from seventh to third as they bounced back from their shock German Cup exit at the hands of Werder Bremen in mid-week with a 2-1 comeback win at Darmstadt.
On a heavy pitch, Sandro Wagner stabbed the ball home to give Darmstadt an early lead, despite Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno catching him around the throat with his forearm.
Leverkusen drew level when Darmstadt defender Aytac Sulu headed into his own net on 62 minutes.
The visitors then took the lead with a sweeping move which went the length of the pitch.
From a Darmstadt corner, junior Julian Brandt started the move he finished by tapping home Kevin Kampl’s final pass for the winner on 77 minutes.
VfB Stuttgart’s impressive form continued as they picked up their fifth-straight league win to go ninth with a 2-0 win at home to Hertha Berlin.
A long-range strike from Ivory Coast defensive midfielder Serey Die and a second-half goal from left-wing Filip Kostic sealed the hosts’ win.
Hertha suffered their first defeat in nine games since losing 2-0 at Bayern in November to drop to fourth.
The youngest manager in Bundesliga history made his debut when Julian Nagelsmann, 28, was on Hoffenheim’s bench for their 1-1 draw at Werder Bremen in the basement battle.
Nagelsmann took over after predecessor Huub Stevens resigned on Wednesday due to heart problems.
Despite Hoffenheim taking the lead on 10 minutes through Croatia striker Andrej Kramaric, Werder hit back three minutes later as former Chelsea defender Papy Djilobodji scored his first Bremen goal.
The result leaves both teams in the relegation places.