Bayern Munich crushed Fortuna Duesseldorf 4-0 to move within a point of top spot with a third straight win under interim coach Hansi Flick while Bundesliga leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach suffered a shock defeat at Union Berlin on Saturday.
The champions, who were joined by RB Leipzig on 24 points, have rediscovered winning ways under Flick, getting three victories in all competitions.
They looked sharp throughout the home fixture in which leading striker Robert Lewandowski failed to score, ending his record run of netting in the previous 11 league games.
They are third behind Moenchengladbach who were stunned 2-0 by promoted Union in their first league loss after three straight wins. Leipzig are second, above Bayern on goal difference, after a 4-1 victory over strugglers.
Bayern, who could have scored more, found no resistance in the first half and fired in three by the 34th minute through Benjamin Pavard, Corentin Tolisso and Serge Gnabry.
Although Polish striker Lewandowski failed to score despite several golden chances, he did set up Philippe Coutinho for Bayern's fourth goal in the 70th minute.
"The team did exactly what we demanded from them," Flick, who took over after the sacking of coach Nico Kovac earlier this month, told reporters.
"We put them under pressure from the start and showed that we were determined. The team did that impressively in the first half. It is good fun working with these players."
His team, eyeing a record-extending eighth consecutive Bundesliga title, are also busy in midweek, playing Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League, though the Germans have already secured their knockout stage spot.
Union stunned Gladbach with a 15th minute goal from Anthony Ujah and completed a memorable win with Sebastian Andersson's goal in second-half stoppage time for a third straight victory which lifted them to 11th on 16 points.
Second-placed Leipzig easily beat Cologne thanks to Emil Forsberg's double and goals from Timo Werner and Konrad Laimer.
Freiburg are fourth on 22 after a 1-1 draw at Bayer Leverkusen and stayed ahead on goal difference of Schalke 04, 2-1 winners at Werder Bremen. Borussia Dortmund rescued a 3-3 draw with Paderborn on Friday to stay sixth on 20.