Bundesliga leaders VfL Wolfsburg and their two main challengers Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin showed the way on Tuesday as they won their midweek league matches.
Wolfsburg's Grafite celebrates
Hertha Berlin secured a 2-1 victory at Cologne. Wolfsburg beat Borussia Dortmund 3-0, and Bayern Munich scored three times in the second half en route to a 3-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
Wolfsburg and Bayern are now at the top of the table with 63 points and two games remaining, with Wolfsburg just two goals better than their rivals from southern Germany.
Hertha Berlin are a point behind the two, while VfB Stuttgart could move to 61 points if they win at Schalke 04 on Wednesday.
The other game on Tuesday saw bottom club Karlsruhe SC all but relegated after giving away a 2-0 lead against Hanover 96 before finally losing 3-2.
Wolfsburg striking duo Grafite and Edin Dzeko again provided the goals that kept the northern German side at the top. Dzeko opened the scoring in the 14th minute with his 21st goal of the season, before the Brazilian Grafite added a second goal two minutes after the restart. Dzeko scored his second goal six minutes from the end after being set up by Grafite, who heads the goal scorer standings with 24 goals.
Dortmund ended the game with ten men after Kevin-Prince Boateng was sent off in the 75th minute - just eight minutes after coming on as a substitute. Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath said that his side wanted to do well after losing their last game at VfB Stuttgart 4-1, adding, "We went in search of goals from the word go."
Dortmund's head coach Juergen Klopp
Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said, “We have the quality and at the end of the day, that will come through." He noted that Wolfsburg played very well and said, "They deserved to win. They are a strong side and we certainly do not think that we lost badly. At the end of the day, the number of goals scored against us, does not matter really."
Bayern wins again
In Munich, the visitors were denied two penalties in the first half, but could do nothing as Luca Toni, Franck Ribery and Lukas Podolski scored the goals that kept Bayern in the hunt for a 22nd German championship.
Bayern has now won the last three games under new coach Jupp Heynckes, who took over when Juergen Klinsmann was sacked. He changed the team on a few positions and gave Germany striker Podolski, who spent most of the time on the bench under Klinsmann, a starting place. Podolski, who scored one goal and set up the others, saying, "We did well as a team and trained well. I think you can see that on the field. The new coach gave me the trust and played me from the beginning and I tried to repay him on the field."
Bayern manager Uli Hoeness said that his side could have won by a higher score. "We decided not to tell the players what the other scores were and I still do not think that the championship will be decided on goal difference. One team will still slip up."
Cicero gave Berlin the lead in Cologne three minutes from the break, before Patrick Ebert added a second midway through the second half with a shot that took a wicked deflection.
Adil Chihi pulled one back for Cologne late in the game with his first-ever Bundesliga goal.
Karlsruhe looked on course for an important victory against Hanover after Alexander Lashvili and Lars Stindl gave the home side a 2-0 lead after just 32 minutes. However, Sergio Pinto and Mikael Forssell equalized matters before the break and Hanno Balitsch found a winner for Hanover at the end of 64 minutes. Karlsruhe are last in the table with just 23 points and could be relegated on Wednesday if three of the four teams directly above them win.