Berlin: Germany striker Mario Gomez netted a hat-trick in Bayern Munich's 7-1 demolition of Hoffenheim on Saturday as the Bavarians trimmed the gap behind German league leaders Dortmund to four points.
With defending champions Dortmund playing relegation-threatened Augsburg on Saturday night, Bayern took the chance to cut their lead and give themselves a confidence boost ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash.
Bayern badly needed a win ahead of their Round of 16 home clash against FC Basel when they must over-turn a 1-0 defeat from the away leg.
With Bayern already licking their wounds from last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Leverkusen, reports coach Jupp Heynckes will quit at the end of the season also circulated in midweek, although he later insisted he will see out the 15 months left on his contract.
Bayern responded to the pressure by blitzing Hoffenheim with five goals in exactly 30 minutes during a devastating first-half performance.
They started with a bang as Gomez put a pass out to Thomas Mueller whose shot was parried only for the striker to fire home with five minutes played.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben then converted a penalty after captain Philipp Lahm had been fouled to leave them 2-0 up after 11 minutes.
It was 3-0 just seven minutes later when Germany midfielder Toni Kroos was left free at the edge of the penalty area and he fired home from 25 metres.
Robben made it 4-0 with less than half an hour played when France wing Franck Ribery split the defence with a great pass and the Dutchman rolled his shot into the empty goal.
The rout continued as Ribery found space down the left flank and fired in for Gomez to head home on 34 minutes and the Germany striker wrapped up his hat-trick with a header from a Robben corner on 48 minutes.
Having created three of Bayern's goals, Ribery then claimed his own for Bayern's seventh on 58 minutes before Bayern's Luiz Gustavo netted a late own-goal for Hoffenheim.
This was only Bayern's fifth win in their ten games since Christmas, but with third-placed Moenchengladbach being held to a goalless draw by Freiburg, Bayern are now three points clear of third with a huge goal difference.
Germany striker Lukas Podolski, who reports claim is set to join Arsenal at the end of the season, was shown a straight red-card in Cologne's bad-tempered 1-0 home win over Hertha Berlin as the hosts finished with nine men.
Cologne midfielder Christian Clemens scored the first-half winner, but Croatia's Mato Jajalo was sent off for a foul on Hertha defender Levan Kobiashvili on 66 minutes.
Georgia's Kobiashvili was then sent off for his second yellow of the game after a tussle with Podolski, who aimed a head-butt in reply, which saw both players sent off as Podolski received a straight red on 76 minutes.
After their humiliating 7-1 defeat at Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek, Bayer Leverkusen slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg, despite taking an early lead.
Mainz are up to tenth after their 2-1 win at home to Nuremberg as Egypt striker Mohamed Zidan continued his remarkable scoring run with his sixth goal in consecutive games when he drilled home a free-kick on 22 minutes.
The hosts needed just 52 seconds to take the lead when midfielder Nicolai Mueller netted with less than a minute gone, while Nuremberg midfielder Daniel Didavi pulled a goal back with an hour played.
Mainz finished with ten men as Hungary striker Adam Szalai sent off for a second yellow card in the second half.