Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben netted last-minute goals in Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win at Ingolstadt on Saturday to open a seven-point lead as their main Bundesliga rivals all lost.
Bayern, who host Arsenal on Wednesday in the Champions League last 16 first leg, broke the deadlock when Vidal ghosted in behind the Ingolstadt defence and put his side ahead on 90 minutes.
Robben netted just 60 seconds later to seal victory in the Bavaria derby.
It was a deserved win for Bayern after Robert Lewandowski hit the crossbar late on and had a first-half effort cleared off the line.
“It was an important win for us and gives us a lot of self-confidence for Wednesday,” said Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti.
“The first-half was very difficult, we couldn’t find any space.
“Ingolstadt were very strong defensively.
“We had to give everything, we did give everything and we’re happy with the result.”
Bayern’s cause was helped as main rivals RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund all lost.
Second-placed Leipzig lost for the second week in a row in crashing 3-0 at home to Hamburg, who escaped the bottom three.
RB were two goals down after 24 minutes in a nightmare first-half as they conceded two headers from almost identical situations.
Centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos leapt highest to put them Hamburg ahead on 18 minutes.
The second goal followed six minutes later, again from a Nicolai Mueller corner, when Brazil midfielder Walace was unmarked in the middle.
Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl responded by substituting overwhelmed centre-back Dayot Upamecano, who made his starting debut, for forward Yussuf Poulsen after half an hour.
But Poulsen lasted barely ten minutes before going off injured to be replaced by Davie Selke just before the break.
Hamburg grabbed a late third when replacement Aaron Hunt scored with his first touch.
– ‘Chicharito’ strikes –
Third-placed Frankfurt lost 3-0 at Bayer Leverkusen as Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez scored two superb goals to take the pressure off coach Roger Schmidt following back-to-back defeats.
Chicharito volleyed home a cross on five minutes, then doubled the tally on 63 minutes.
Kevin Kampel’s long pass was volleyed on the wing by Karim Bellarabi and Chicharito slammed home the cross with his first touch on 63 minutes before Kevin Volland netted Leverkusen’s third.
Fourth-placed Dortmund crashed 2-1 at Darmstadt, who remain bottom and seven points from safety.
Thomas Tuchel named three teenagers in Dortmund’s starting line-up before Tuesday’s Champions League last 16, first-leg, match at Benfica.
Dzenis Burnic made his debut in defence, the second 18-year-old in the starting line-up alongside US international midfielder Christian Pulisic, while attacking midfielder Emre Mor is only 19.
It backfired as Darmstadt went ahead on 21 minutes when US international striker Terrence Boyd, on loan from Leipzig, was unmarked.
Dortmund’s Germany winger Marco Reus hit the crossbar from a free-kick on 32 minutes before midfielder Raphael Guerreiro levelled with a bullet shot just before the half-time break.
But Darmstadt sealed the win when Antonio-Mirko Colak got in behind the defence and slotted his shot Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki’s legs.
Borussia Moechengladbach climbed to ninth as Thorgan Hazard, brother of Chelsea star Eden, scored in their 1-0 win at Werder Bremen, who drop into the bottom three.