Borussia Dortmund kept the heat on Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich ahead of Der Klassiker with a 2-0 win at 10-man Wolfsburg on Saturday.
A sixth straight league victory for Dortmund was not nearly as impressive as last weekend's crushing of rivals Schalke but again moved Lucien Favre's challengers to within a point of Bayern prior to the late kick-off between the defending champions and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Raphael Guerreiro struck twice in the Revierderby and was on target once more, breaking the deadlock with his eighth Bundesliga goal of the season – his best return in a single league campaign.
Wolfsburg – who saw substitute Felix Klaus controversially dismissed with eight minutes remaining – stayed in the game and Dortmund toiled, but Achraf Hakimi's counter-attacking second clinched a precious triumph before Bayern visit Signal Iduna Park for a mammoth meeting on Wednesday (AEST).
With that distraction looming on the horizon, unchanged Dortmund scarcely troubled their hosts here before the 32nd-minute opener came courtesy of Guerreiro's clinical left boot.
Wolfsburg were picked apart by neat work down the right that freed Thorgan Hazard at the byline, with a low centre just evading a tumbling Erling Haaland and instead reaching Guerreiro at the far post for a simple tap-in.
Hazard miscued from the edge of the area as the visitors pushed for a second before the break, yet they might have been pegged back within three minutes of the restart.
Mats Hummels - reportedly nursing a foot injury - made way for Emre Can at half-time, and Dortmund's reshuffled defence failed to halt Renato Steffen's run onto a smart Wout Weghorst pass, only for his powerful finish to clip the top of the crossbar.
Roman Burki swatted away a thumping Steffen volley as Wolfsburg maintained an improved second period, although Guerreiro drilled across the face of goal at the other end.
Dortmund soon settled the match as substitute Jadon Sancho raced into the final third and fed Hakimi for a simple second.
A VAR review saw Felix Klaus dismissed for a challenge on Manuel Akanji, bringing an end to any faint hopes of a Wolfsburg comeback.
What does it mean? Six in a row, Bayern next
Only the result really mattered for Dortmund, and the three points were duly delivered. BVB will have to be better against Bayern in midweek, yet Sancho should be back in the XI for that game, while minutes for Can represented another boost here. Favre's men must now back themselves to attack their title rivals.
Guerreiro the goal-getter
Two superb finishes helped Dortmund embarrass Schalke last time out, and Guerreiro was soon at it again. This vital opener was a far simpler effort but illustrated the threat BVB possess across the field. Wing-back Hakimi was involved in the build-up before Guerreiro, on the opposite side, provided the telling touch.
Wolfsburg cannot wield Wout
Sixth-placed Wolfsburg might have sensed an opportunity to upset a Dortmund outfit still not risking Sancho from the start. But 11-goal Weghorst was dominated by Akanji, aside from the second-half passage that resulted in Steffen's miss. With the striker starved of quality service, that was Wolfsburg's one big chance.
No Dortmund supporter needs reminding of their next test at home on Wednesday. Wolfsburg are in action the same day with a similarly challenging encounter at Bayer Leverkusen.