Wolfsburg crashed to a 3-1 defeat at Hoffenheim on Saturday to miss their chance of going level on points with Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga table.
Elsewhere, last season’s runners-up RB Leipzig brushed off recent poor results to climb to 10th with a 6-0 thrashing of Hertha Berlin.
Wolfsburg’s defeat means defending champions Bayern maintain the gap they opened on Friday with a 3-1 win at bottom side Greuther Fuerth.
Borussia Dortmund, who lost both captain Marco Reus and star striker Erling Braut Haaland to injury in training on Friday, can trim Bayern’s advantage to a point if they later win at strugglers Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Wolfsburg took the lead at Hoffenheim when winger Ridle Baku fired in a stunning long-range shot from the left flank.
However Hoffenheim roared back with three unanswered goals as Croatia striker Andrej Kramaric headed in a corner, then Christoph Baumgartner and Pavel Kaderabek fired in second-half goals.
“It’s a shame we didn’t take the points, but Hoffenheim were very efficient – better than us in that regards,” said Wolfsburg head coach Mark Van Bommel after his first league defeat in charge.
Wolfsburg drop to third on goal difference behind Bayer Leverkusen, who went second after teenage midfielder Florian Wirtz scored in their 1-0 home win over Mainz.
Wirtz, a full Germany international at just 18, continued his fairytale form as his second-half winner made him the youngest player to reach the milestone of 10 Bundesliga goals.
In Leipzig, the hosts picked up a much-needed confidence boost before Tuesday’s home Champions League game against Brugge by thrashing Hertha.
Nkunku on song
French winger Christopher Nkunku capped an outstanding display with two goals and two assists as Leipzig ran amok.
Three defeats in their opening five league games, as well as a 6-3 thrashing at Manchester City in Europe, had piled pressure on Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch.
The American reacted by switching Denmark forward Yussuf Poulsen up front for struggling new striker Andre Silva.
Poulsen linked up with Nkunku to cause havoc in the Hertha defence.
“That was an important step for us, we needed a result like that,” said Marsch.
Nkunku deftly chipped the Berlin goalkeeper to give the hosts an early lead, then provided the pass which Poulsen swept into the net for the second.
Lukas Klostermann had a goal disallowed, but Leipzig still went into half-time 3-0 up when Nordi Mukiele volleyed home an Angelino free-kick.
Leipzig playmaker Emil Forsberg converted a penalty to make it 4-0 before Nkunku grabbed his second when he fired in a free-kick.
Mali midfielder Amadou Haidara made it 6-0 when he fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the area for his second goal in as many games.
“You can see when we have fun, when we show passion, that we can win games like this well,” added Forsberg.
Union Berlin are unbeaten in their last 20 home league games after a 1-0 win against Bielefeld in the capital.
Substitute striker Kevin Behrens came off the bench to claim his first Bundesliga goal in only his fourth game for Union.
However, the win was overshadowed by injury to Union defender Timo Baumgartl, who was knocked out during a first-half collision and taken to hospital.