Danish striker Jonas Wind scored twice in the first half as a top-form Wolfsburg defeated high-flying Bundesliga Freiburg 6-0 on Saturday.
The Freiburg visitors had hoped to reduce the gap to Bayern Munich to two points after the leaders’ 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig on Friday.
But they capitulated after falling behind to Patrick Wimmer’s opener in the second minute.
The wind scored twice in the space of nine minutes to give the hosts three goals by halftime.
Wolfsburg added three more in the second half, via a late penalty from Yannick Gerhardt, Ridle Baku and Luca Waldschmidt, to move up to sixth.
Wolfsburg are now unbeaten in 10 games, with five consecutive league wins, having started the season with four Bundesliga defeats in their first seven games under new manager Niko Kovac.
“We had a very good start,” said former Bayern manager Kovac. “We (then) scored our second goal with our second shot.
“Momentum built and it was like we couldn’t do anything wrong.”
It was a terrible restart to the season for Freiburg, who had been Bayern’s closest rival before the winter break.
“In the end, when you lose 0-6, what can you say? It’s better not to say anything, then I won’t say anything bad,” Freiburg coach Christian Streich said.
– ‘Take the lederhosen’ –
Eintracht Frankfurt took advantage of Freiburg’s misfortune to move up to second place with a 3-0 home win over rock-bottom Schalke.
Danish striker Jesper Lindstrom fired a high shot into the Schalke goal in the 27th minute for his seventh league goal of the campaign.
Rafael Borre scored the second with five minutes remaining, before Aurelio Buta scored the third in the second minute of injury time.
But Frankfurt manager Oliver Glasner was critical of his team, saying: “I almost liked Schalke’s performance more than what we showed.”
Schalke are now six points behind relegation play-off place Stuttgart after a ninth loss in 10 Bundesliga games.
“We had a lot of chances in the first half, but Frankfurt was cold as ice,” striker Simon Terodde said.
In the last game on Saturday, Cologne scored five first-half goals to embarrass Werder Bremen 7-1, jumping three places in the table to tenth.
Former Borussia Dortmund striker Steffen Tigges and Tunisia international Ellyes Skhiri each scored twice for Cologne, along with goals from Linton Maina and Denis Huseinbasic and an own goal from Bremen’s Marco Friedl.
German striker Niclas Fuellkrug pulled one back for Bremen, who have now lost three straight league games for the first time since being promoted to the Bundesliga this season.
After the match, Cologne fans roared in celebration of their biggest victory in 40 years, chanting “let’s take the leather pants off those Bavarians” ahead of Tuesday’s match with Bayern.
Tigges told Sky that “it was a perfect day… outstanding.”
Elsewhere, Union Berlin rallied to win 3-1 at home against Hoffenheim and move to third place, level on points with fourth-placed Frankfurt and Freiburg.
The trio sit five points behind Bayern and one point above Leipzig.
Union’s American striker Jordan Siebatcheu missed a first-half penalty after Hoffenheim’s Ihlas Bebou reached into the box.
Bebou quickly took advantage and scored just before the break.
Union centre-back Danilho Doekhi equalized on 73 minutes and found the net again with a minute remaining in normal time, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Young striker Jamie Leweling clinched victory in stoppage time.
Bochum put further pressure on Hertha Berlin with a dominant 3-1 home win to climb out of the bottom three and push their opponents into the relegation zone.
Bochum have posted three straight wins while Hertha sit in second place, one point from safety.
Stuttgart drew 1-1 at home with Mainz.