Champions Borussia Dortmund beat Hoffenheim 3-1 on Sunday to move back into the top three heading into the Bundesliga's winter break.
Dortmund's Mario Gotze opened the scoring for the visitors when he superbly drilled in through the legs of defender Andreas Beck and past keeper Koen Casteels in the 26th minute.
Hoffenheim's Sven Schipplock, however, levelled nine minutes later, stabbing the ball in from close range.
Dortmund, who had lost ground in the title race following two draws and a defeat in their last three league matches, renewed their lead early in the second half with Kevin Grosskreutz rounding off a quick move started by Goetze.
The goal took any will to fight out of the hosts and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski rounded Casteels to score his 10th league goal in the 66th minute.
"It was important to go into the break with the three points," Dortmund defender Mats Hummels told reporters.
"We have wasted eight or 10 points so far this season and that is frustrating. We have to improve in the second half of the season to reach our goals," said the Germany international.
Dortmund, who host Hannover 96 in the German Cup round of 16 on Wednesday, move up to third on 30 points, 12 behind leaders Bayern Munich and three behind second-placed Bayer Leverkusen, who beat Hamburg 3-0 on Saturday.
Hoffenheim's sixth straight league defeat left them in the relegation play-off spot, seven points behind 15th placed VfL Wolfsburg.
"My players gave it all they had and I cannot blame anyone," said Hoffenheim interim coach Frank Kramer. "We will now discuss everything else calmly during the winter break."
Leaders Bayern drew 1-1 against Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday to go into the break with a nine-point cushion over Leverkusen.
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010