Borussia Dortmund are one win away from their first Bundesliga title in a decade, after two second-half goals from Sebastien Haller delivered a 3-0 win at Augsburg on Sunday.
Dortmund are now two points clear of Bayern Munich, who lost 3-1 at home to RB Leipzig on Saturday, with one match remaining.
They now need to better Bayern’s result next week at home against Mainz to lift the Bundesliga shield for the first time since 2011-12.
Despite Augsburg being reduced to 10 men late in the first half, the game was scoreless until the 58th minute, when Haller pounced on a rebound to score the opener.
Haller, who missed the first half of the season as he overcame testicular cancer, scored another with six remaining to send the visiting fans into raptures.
Julian Brandt added a goal in injury time.
“We’re very happy, but not completely satisfied” Dortmund manager Edin Terzic told DAZN, “we’ve got a next step we need to take”.
A “happy and proud” Haller told DAZN “we’ve got a huge chance to achieve something big”.
Augsburg manager Enrico Maassen said “the red card was the crucial moment… you can give it, but that’s a hard decision”.
Dortmund, who came into the game knowing victory would put them in control of the title race, were winless on the road since February.
The visitors made the trip south without star midfielder Jude Bellingham, who failed to recover from a knee complaint.
Stuttgart’s earlier win at Mainz meant Augsburg were only two points clear of the relegation zone.
Dortmund, who scored 11 goals in their past two games, were dominant in the first half but could not find a breakthrough, Haller forcing a fingertip save from Tomas Koubek.
With 33 minutes gone, Julian Brandt latched onto a 40-metre defence-splitting pass from Emre Can but blasted directly into Koubek when one on one with the Augsburg ‘keeper.
Shortly before half-time last-man Felix Uduokhai earned a red card, tackling Donyell Malen on the edge of the penalty box.
Augsburg dug deep despite losing a man in the hope of snatching a point.
Haller finally broke through for the visitors, collecting a rebound off Koubek before turning and threading the ball into the far corner.
With just over five minutes remaining, Haller repeated the trick, pouncing on a rebounded Marco Reus shot to tap Dortmund 2-0 up, sending the visiting fans into a chant of “German champions, only Dortmund”.
With the clock winding down, Dortmund captain Mats Hummels was helped off the field after copping a boot to the face.
The centre-back’s replacement, Nico Schlotterbeck, put the ball through for Brandt to score a third.
– Stuttgart stay alive –
Earlier, a goal and two assists from substitute Chris Fuehrich gave Stuttgart a massive boost in their relegation fight, with a 4-1 win away at Mainz.
Brought on with 30 minutes remaining with the scores locked 1-1, Fuehrich laid on a goal for Serhou Guirassy just two minutes later, before adding one of his own.
The winger laid on another goal in injury time for Tanguy Coulibaly to take his side from the relegation places to the safety of 15th with one matchday remaining.
Having lost only one of their past eight home games, the home side hit the lead after 23 minutes, Marcus Ingvartsen wading through a sea of Stuttgart defenders to tap in a deflection off Wataro Endo.
Japan international Endo levelled things up for Stuttgart late in the first half, finishing off a counter from a Mainz corner with a superb volley past a helpless Finn Dahmen in goal.
Fuehrich laid a goal on for Guirassy midway through the second, before scoring one of his own, the winger shedding two defenders before curling in his fifth goal of the season.
Fuehrich then set up a fourth for Coulibaly in injury time, sealing a superb Sunday for Stuttgart.
In Sunday’s late game, sixth-placed Bayer Leverkusen can improve their chances of European football next season with a win at home against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)