Bayern Munich opened a ten-point gap at the top of the German top flight on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory at Freiburg ahead of their key Bundesliga clash at home to Borussia Dortmund this weekend.
The men from Bavaria host defending German champions Borussia on Saturday in Munich and victory at Freiburg meant Munich extended their lead by two points as the chasing pack lost ground.
"It was enormously important to win here," admitted goal-scorer Thomas Mueller. "In the last few years, we have found it tough. It is never pleasant to play Freiburg. When the opposition went a man down, we had more problems than when it was eleven against eleven."
Bayern took the lead after only 12 minutes when Germany star Thomas Mueller slotted home a penalty after Freiburg defender Oliver Sorg's handball. The hosts were then reduced to ten men when Senegal defender Fallou Diagne was shown a straight red when he brought down Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri with only the goalkeeper to beat.
With Dortmund looming, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes made four changes in the second-half, including taking off striker Mario Gomez, and Munich made sure of the three points when Anatoliy Tymoschuk netted their second on 79 minutes.
Bayer Leverkusen took Dortmund's place in second spot after their 4-1 win at Werder Bremen to claim their fourth win in their last five league games. Ex-Germany midfielder Gonzalo Castro scored the first two goals for Leverkusen before Nils Petersen pulled one back for Bremen with a 54th-minute header.
Leverkusen made sure of the three points when captain Simon Rolfes drilled home his shot on 74 minutes and five minutes later, midfielder Jens Hegeler grabbed their fourth.
Gladbach move on up
Borussia Moenchengladbach are up to ninth after their 2-0 win at home to VfL Wolfsburg while VfB Stuttgart earned a 2-1 win at home to bottom side Augsburg. Hoffenheim's woes continued as Markus Babbel's team lost 2-1 at Nuremberg, their fifth defeat in nine games to drop into the bottom three.
On Tuesday, Dortmund conceded a late equaliser to draw 1-1 at home to 10-man Fortuna Duesseldorf as Stefan Reisinger put the guests level on 78 minutes after Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski had scored for Dortmund on 43 minutes.
Schalke suffered a 3-1 defeat at Hamburg to drop to fourth in the league, while Frankfurt are down to fifth after their 3-1 defeat at home to Mainz.
Hanover 96 moved up into sixth, amongst the European places, with a 2-0 win at home to second-from-bottom Greuther Fuerth with goals by Senegal striker Mame Diouf and Swiss defender Mario Eggimann.