Berlin: Thorgan Hazard netted twice as Borussia Moenchengladbach climbed to second place in the Bundesliga table " pushing Bayern Munich down to third " after a 3-0 home victory over Fortuna Duesseldorf on Sunday.
Defending champions Bayern drop one place after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg on Saturday, leaving them four points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund, who they face away in a crunch clash next Saturday.
Hazard, younger brother of Chelsea star Eden, has now scored seven goals in as many league games, as Gladbach bounced back from a shock 3-1 league defeat to Freiburg and 5-0 thumping in mid-week at home to Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup.
It was a deserved win as Hazard netted a penalty at the start of the second half after winger Alassane Plea had his shot blocked by a Fortuna handball.
"I had a bit of luck today, the penalty (shot) wasn't so good, but it was good mentally to get the win after two defeats," admitted Hazard.
Soon after defender Tony Jantschke came on for his 200th Bundesliga appearance " all for Gladbach " the hosts celebrated their second goal thanks to some clinical defensive pressing.
When a long-range pass from Fortuna's Alfredo Morales went astray in his own half, Gladbach's attack pounced on the error.
The ball was moved quickly to create a four-on-two situation and midfielder Jonas Hofmann slotted home his fifth goal of the season to make it 2-0 on 67 minutes.
Hazard claimed his second goal when the Duesseldorf defence held back as he made a run towards goal, the Belgian's effort took a deflection, wrong-footing the Fortuna goalkeeper, to hit the net eight minutes from time.
This was Fortuna's sixth straight defeat to leave them joint bottom of the table with an identical record to Stuttgart.
"Being second in the table looks good, but no more than that " it was hard work today," said Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
"It was a good reaction after two defeats and now we have 20 points."
Pizarro nets, but Bremen lose
Werder Bremen's title hopes suffered another setback when they crashed to a 2-1 at Mainz, a second consecutive league defeat.
Bremen's 40-year-old striker Claudio Pizarro scored their only goal.
After last Sunday's 6-2 drubbing at home by Leverkusen, Bremen were again outplayed as Mainz picked up their first win since mid-September to climb four places to 12th while Bremen drop to sixth - seven points adrift of leaders Dortmund.
Mainz took a deserved lead with 25 minutes gone when Daniel Brosinski whipped in a cross and Jean-Philippe Mateta fired under Bremen's goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka.
The lead was doubled on 51 minutes when Ivory Coast forward Jean-Philippe Gbamin collected a Brosinski throw-in, darted back inside and drove his shot into the bottom corner.
However, Bremen brought on two strikers in Martin Harnik and Pizarro, who scored with 12 minutes left to claim his 194th goal on his 454th Bundesliga appearance.
With time running out Bremen captain Max Kruse forced the hosts' goalkeeper Robin Zentner into a stunning save as Mainz held on.