Borussia Dortmund went six points clear of Bayern Munich after a dramatic 1-0 win at Signal Iduna Park courtesy of Robert Lewandowski's strike.
Bayern had a great chance to tie things up late on, but Arjen Robben's penalty was aved by Roman Weidenfeller.
The match was billed as a potential decider as the home side began the contest just three points behind in-form Bayern. Dortmund appeared as if they might begin to falter in their bid to retain their Bundesliga title after a 4-4 draw with Stuttgart. But Jurgen Klopp's men recovered well with a hard-fought and nervy 3-1 win away at Wolfsburg at the weekend.
And the clash was given further spice, as if it needed it, by Bayern midfielder Tony Kroos' assertion that his side was the superior outfit.
Dortmund had a great opportunity to open the scoring as early as the sixth minute. Assisted by Japanese attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa, Kevin Grosskreutz's effort was brilliantly saved by German No. 1 Manuel Neuer. Incredibly Neuer again reacted superbly to deny forward Robert Lewandowski on the rebound.
And Dortmund's Polish striker came even closer to taking the lead in the 38th minute. His header at the far post from Jakub Blaszczykowski's cross had Neuer beaten but the ball agonizingly came back off the post.
Bayern had their chances too, though. Kroos hit a long-range effort with his left foot that just crept inches wide of Roman Weidenfeller's goal.
And in the second period Franck Ribery missed the target when in a great position at the far post.
But it was Dortmund who got the all-important goal 13 minutes from time. Bayern half-cleared the home side's corner to Grosskreutz, whose shot was cleverly flicked past Neuer by Lewandowski.
There was to be more drama, though, as Bayern Munich were awarded a penalty five minutes from time. Arjen Robben went down under the challenge of Dortmund stopper Weidenfeller and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. But the experienced German keeper was to atone for his foul when he made a crucial save from Robben's penalty.