A Marco Reus hat-trick gave 10-man Borussia Dortmund a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday that kept the Bundesliga champions in second spot, a point ahead of Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who defeated Augsburg 2-1.
Midfielder Reus was the recipient of two defense-splitting passes early on and he sprinted clear both times to beat goalkeeper Kevin Trapp as the hosts raced into a 2-0 lead by the 10th minute.
Dortmund, without suspended striker Robert Lewandowski, had Julian Schieber sent off for a second caution in the 31st minute.
They then had to soak up some pressure, before delivering the decisive blow in the 65th minute.
It was Ilkay Guendogan’s turn to slice open the Eintracht defense with a well-timed pass to Mario Goetze, who turned and fed fellow Germany international Reus in the box to complete his treble and take his tally in the league this season to 11 goals.
“I am just happy to have won this game because Frankfurt were really difficult to play against,” Reus told reporters. “Even with 10 men, we were very well-organized at the back and waited for the break.”
The balance was restored when Eintracht’s Takashi Inui received his marching orders in the 74th minute for a second yellow card.
“The sending-off made things very difficult for us, especially after having played our Champions League game in midweek, but we managed it well,” said Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp, referring to a 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk. “My players worked extremely hard and the goals we scored were well-executed.”
Dortmund, who bounced back after the previous weekend’s 4-1 defeat by Hamburg SV, have 42 points, while Eintracht are fourth on 37.
Striker Stefan Kiessling scored one goal and laid on another as Leverkusen, third on 41 points, sank Augsburg.
Kiessling headed in a Gonzalo Castro free-kick in the 26th minute to join Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic as the Bundesliga’s top scorer on 15 goals.
The forward, who has been regularly snubbed by Germany coach Joachim Loew, also set up Lars Bender for the second in the 75th minute as Leverkusen won for the first time in four games.
Sascha Moelders grabbed a deserved consolation goal for the visitors in the 89th minute.
Schalke 04, who play Galatasaray in the round-of-16 of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, gave a lackluster performance as they drew 2-2 at FSV Mainz 05.
Michel Bastos equalized twice for Schalke after they had fallen behind. His second goal in the 82nd minute was his third strike since joining the club last month.
Schalke are eighth on 30 points after having won just one of their past 11 games.
Hamburg moved into contention for a European spot, beating Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-0 courtesy of Rafael van der Vaart’s first goal in five months.
The Dutchman cracked the ball into the top corner in the 24th minute as Hamburg rose to sixth place on 34 points.
Also on Saturday, SC Freiburg won 3-2 away at Werder Bremen and Fortuna Duesseldorf saw off bottom side SpVgg Greuther Furth 1-0.
Additional reporting by staff writer