Borussia Monchengladbach threw their hat into the ring for the Bundesliga title with a 1-0 win over Mainz which takes them to within four points of the summit at the midway stage of the season.
Patrick Herrmann’s early goal was enough to earn Lucien Favre’s side the victory they had been waiting three weeks for and take them onto the shoulders of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke in pursuit of the league leaders Bayern Munich.
Mainz will have a less tranquil Christmas, on the other hand, with just two points separating them from the bottom three following this, their seventh defeat of the season.
Marco Reus was passed fit to start for Gladbach after missing their last two games with a broken toe and he set up the opening goal after just five minutes.
His pinpoint pass picked out Herrmann, who received the ball in his stride and placed it between the legs of Mainz goalkeeper Christian Wetklo.
Herrmann showed his worth at the other end of the field five minutes later when he cleared Nico Bungert’s header off the line as Mainz tried to respond immediately.
Reus continued to show what Gladbach had missed in their past two games, in which they had won just one point, as he regularly posed a threat inside the penalty area.
The first major threat to Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal came in the first minute of the second half when Marco Caligiuri fired his shot just over the bar.
It was all getting too much for Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel, who was ordered to the stands after arguing with the referee.
His side almost fell further behind in the 67th minute when Juan Arango was denied in a one-on-one situation.
Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting tried to revive Mainz’s hopes all by himself late on, but he was denied twice by ter Stegen, who kept a precious clean sheet.