Mario Gotze came back to haunt his former club, and Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller added late goals to the 21-year-old’s opener as Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund 3-0 in Der Klassiker to restore their four-point lead over Bayer Leverkusen.
"We hope we're en route to the title," Muller told Bundesliga.com. "Nothing's decided yet, but this is a big step."
Still, it was Dortmund that came out flying—Robert Lewandowski quite nearly finding the back of the net after just three minutes, having been picked out by Polish teammate Jakub Blaszczykowski.
But Bayern weathered the storm and got a half-chance in the 17th minute, courtesy of Toni Kroos, whose ambitious lash from 30 yards failed to test Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
Then, with only eight minutes remaining in the opening period, Robben created quite possibly the best opportunity of the half when he found Mario Mandzukic with a superb ball across the face of goal, only to see the Croatia international fail to beat Weidenfeller from in close.
Pep subs changed balance dramatically , gave Bayern the edge. Klopp didn't have time to react. It was a hit & run.— Aleksandar Holiga (@AlexHoliga) November 23, 2013
It was Bayern manager Pep Guardiola’s second-half substitutions that ended up swinging the match in the visitors’ favour.
Shortly after the hour mark, and just two minutes after replacing Mandzukic, Gotze had his goal—the one-time Dortmund playmaker beating Weidenfeller with a delightful effort to the left corner after controlling Muller’s pass.
The hosts’ reply was to force Bayern 'keeper Manuel Neuer into action in the 74th minute. Lewandowski, who put in a solid shift despite failing to get his name on the scoresheet, back-heeled a pass to Marco Reus, whose low, hard drive compelled Neuer to dive to keep the ball out of his net.
Just over 10 minutes later, however, Bayern wrapped things up.
Robben, who seems to deliver his best football against Dortmund, lifted the ball over Weidenfeller in the 85th minute after rushing into space from the left.
And three minutes after that, Bayern had their third, with Muller completing a lovely bit of buildup play to secure the points for the Bundesliga leaders.
"I think the first goal to make it 1-0 was very important," Robben told Bundesliga.com. "We used the space well afterwards, and the final two goals made it a clear win. It was deserved on the whole."
Key Player Grades
Arjen Robben: A
He scored once against Dortmund in the Champions League final and twice again in the German Super Cup. On Saturday, his tally late in the second half provided some much-needed insurance for a Bayern side that were, for the balance of the encounter, pressed to the limit by a makeshift Dortmund outfit.
Philipp Lahm: A
Operating as a midfielder, the Bayern and Germany captain picked up an assist on Muller’s goal and completed an astonishing 94 percent of his passes Saturday. That he has found and excelled in this new role is both a credit to his own versatility and the creative thinking of Guardiola.
Marco Reus: B
His 18-yarder that nearly beat Neuer was his only shot on target Saturday, and no doubt Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp expected more from the 24-year-old. With an entirely cobbled-together back line, Dortmund needed their attacking players to step up and provide offense against the league leaders.
"We were obviously missing players, and at the moment, unfortunately, we're not scoring the decisive goals at decisive times," Weidenfeller said, per Bundesliga.com. "We were trying to keep the ball moving and play our game, but it's pretty obvious the final result isn't reflective of how the match panned out."
Next up for Dortmund is a Tuesday appointment at home to Napoli in the Champions League, and they’ll be away to Mainz to wrap up November a week from today. Bayern, meanwhile, are off to CSKA Moscow Wednesday and will host Eintracht Frankfurt on November 30.
All statistics courtesy WhoScored.com.