Bremen defender Milos Veljkovic (L) was sent off before Niklas Suele (R) sealed a late win for Bayern Munich on Saturday / © AFP
Niklas Suele's late goal saw Bayern Munich break a brave resistance from ten-man Werder Bremen to snatch a crucial 1-0 win and stay ahead of Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga title race.
Bayern toiled in the searing Bavarian sun against Bremen, eventually grinding out the victory to go four points clear at the top of the table overnight.
The win puts pressure on title rivals Dortmund, who need to win a tough away game in Freiburg on Sunday if they are to remain within a point of Bayern.
Bremen held Bayern at bay for much of the game, but suffered a lethal blow just before the hour mark, when Milos Veljkovic was sent off for a second yellow card.
Chances came and went for Bayern as the clock ticked down, until Suele finally broke through with a deflected shot from the edge of the area 15 minutes from time.
At the other end of the table, Stuttgart look doomed to a bottom-three finish after they suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Augsburg.
Augsburg obliterated their relegation rivals with a delightful display of attacking football. Goals from Rani Khedira, Andre Hahn and Philipp Max saw them establish a 3-0 lead before the half-hour mark.
Max added another in the second half, and a Marco Richter double completed a disastrous display for Stuttgart.
Augsburg's win lifts them ten points clear of the relegation play-off place, and also confirms survival for Mainz, who beat local rivals Fortuna Duesseldorf 3-1.
Jean-Philippe Mateta put Mainz into the lead after just 36 seconds, but Dodi Lukebakio levelled the scores with his second goal in two games.
Lukebakio later missed a penalty, and Mainz took advantage of the let-off. They promptly restored the lead through Karim Onisiwo, before Mateta sealed the win a few minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen kept themselves in the race for Europe with a 2-0 win over Nuremberg.
Lucas Alario's 61st minute header just cleared the goalline, before Kevin Volland struck late to decide a nervy game in Leverkusen's favour.