A goal from Shinji Kagawa was enough for Borussia Dortmund to beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 and defend their place at the top of the Bundesliga for another week.
The Japanese midfielder struck on the stroke of half-time to preserve Dortmund’s two-point cushion over Bayern Munich, who beat Kaiserslautern 2-0 today.
Leverkusen, who started the game in sixth place, missed the chance to move above Werder Bremen into fifth with a disappointing performance at the Westfalenstadion as Dortmund extended their unbeaten streak to 14 games.
Dortmund started as they meant to go on, attacking Leverkusen from the very beginning.
However, Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno was called into action only twice in the first 45 minutes as he made easy saves from Kevin Grosskreutz.
But just as it looked like Dortmund were not going to make the breakthrough, Kagawa stepped up to take matters into his own hands just before the referee could blow for half-time.
He took ball into the area and cut back onto his left foot. Although he seemed to lose his balance, he still managed to shoot into the far corner with Leno getting his foot to the ball, but not preventing it from going in.
Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt chose not to make any changes to his side at the start of the second half, leaving Michael Ballack on the bench.
Ballack spent the whole of the second half as a spectator too as, for the second game running, he was not called upon.
The former Germany captain may have been able to bring a much-needed different dimension to the Leverkusen side in hindsight as Dutt’s eleven lacked creativity.
Dortmund, on the other hand, lacked incision to make the most of their dominance and, as a result, they were made to sweat on what was ultimately an unchallenged victory.
The only disappointment for Klopp’s side was their failure to add to their one goal as they missed an opportunity to improve their goal difference, which could prove vital come the end of the season.