Reigning Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund took a significant step closer to defending their title thanks to a priceless 1-0 victory over their nearest rivals Bayern Munich.
A deft back-heel from Polish striker Robert Lewandowski in the 77th minute was enough to give the Westphalian team a six-point cushion at the top of the table with four games of the season remaining. No team in Bundesliga history has ever lost such a lead after 30 games.
Bayern had chances to claw level, but Arjen Robben's tame penalty miss late on may prove costly as Dortmund edged closer to the title, and stretched their unbeaten run to 24 games.
Fit-again Bastian Schweinsteiger was somewhat surprisingly left on the bench by Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who also recalled Brazilian Luiz Gustavo to his starting line-up instead of Anatoliy Tymoschuk.
Kevin Grosskreutz replaced Ivan Perisic in the Dortmund side.
Dortmund had received nearly half a million ticket requests for 'The Clash of the Giants', with the match being beamed live in over 200 countries. The atmosphere was rocking as most of the capacity crowd of 80,720 burst into song with an inspiring rendition of the classic fan anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' prior to kick off.
Grosskreutz was denied the opener from close range after a brilliant reflex save by Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on six minutes, after being played in by Japanese star Shinji Kagawa.
A rasping drive past the post by Toni Kroos on 29 minutes was all Bayern could muster in the first half.
Jakub Blaszczykowski (Kuba) tested Neuer after the half-hour mark before Lewandowski almost broke the deadlock on 38 minutes, when he headed against the post with the ex-Schalke keeper beaten.
Bayern came out in the second half with more resolve and looked to stem the flow of attacks from the home side. Neuer was greeted with a volley of bananas due to his allegiance to BVB's bitter rivals Schalke 04.
Chances were few and far between in the second half as the teams neutralised each other. Just as both teams seemed content with a share of the spoils the late drama ensued.
A short corner from substitute Moritz Leitner (ex-1860 Munich) found its way to the energetic Grosskreutz on the edge of the box, whose half-hit shot was cutely flicked past the helpless Neuer by BVB top scorer Lewandowski. Bayern appealed in vain for offside but Robben had been slow to react and played the Pole onside.
Bayern missed a glorious opportunity to draw level in the 86th minute when BVB goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller naively brought Robben down inside the penalty area.
Weidenfeller made amends for his rash challenge, saving Robben's weak spot-kick down to his left.
Robben's miserable evening was crowned as he blazed into the Westphalia night sky after a Neven Subotic header rebounded off his own crossbar in added time.
Dortmund sealed their fourth successive victory over FCB and left the visitors' treble hopes in tatters. The two sides will meet again in the German Cup Final next month.
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