Kevin Grosskreutz scored twice and set up another goal within seven minutes Friday as Borussia Dortmund beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 to provisionally extend its lead in the Bundesliga to 13 points.
In the opening match of the second half of the Bundesliga season, Grosskreutz struck in the 49th and 53rd minutes before assisting on Mario Goetze’s goal to make it 3-0 after 55 minutes and set up Dortmund’s ninth away win out of 10 matches.
Stefan Kiessling made it 3-1 in the 80th minute for Leverkusen.
Dortmund, which lost its final game in the first half of the season to snap a 15-game undefeated streak, has played one extra match than Leverkusen and Mainz, which are next in the standings.
Dortmund has 46 points from 18 matches, Leverkusen and Mainz are on 33 points.
"We just want to continue playing our football," Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said. "In the first half, we didn’t do exactly what we wanted. But it worked better in the second half. And we couldn’t really relax until we led 3-0 with all the quality that Leverkusen has.
Leverkusen goalkeeper Rene Adler criticized the display that left his team with only three victories in 10 home matches.
"That was just not enough," he said. "There was no passion, no will to win.
"We knew it would be a difficult game. Usually we are a better attacking team which passes the ball. But we couldn’t do that today."
Dortmund, which is now 17 points ahead of defending champion Bayern Munich, was without Shinji Kawaga, who is with the Japanese national team at the Asian Cup. Star attacker Lucas Barrios was also left on the bench after being injured late last year.
Klopp’s team, however, still had more chances in the first half.
Sven Bender struck the right post with a header after just three minutes and Dortmund teammate Robert Lewandowski’s shot was saved by Adler in a one-on-one after 24 minutes.
Leverkusen struggled to breach Dortmund’s stingy defense, though Kiessling’s header sailed just over the crossbar in the 45th minute.
Dortmund opened the scoring four minutes after the restart following a defensive miscue by both Manuel Friedrich and Daniel Schwaab, who misjudged a throw-in, allowing Grosskreutz to poke the ball home past Adler.
Grosskreutz was the beneficiary after another mistake from Friedrich, who misjudged a headed pass from Lewandowski to allow Grosskreutz to get behind him and blast inside the far post to make it 2-0.
Two minutes later, Grosskreutz won a challenge with Friedrich and passed for Goetze to score between the legs of Adler.
Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes made three substitutions on the hour mark in the hope of getting his team back into the game. But the league’s best defense did not crack until Kiessling found the net from a cross by Renato Augusto to cut the margin to 3-1.