Borussia Dortmund kept the pressure on Bayern Munich at the top on Saturday, as they beat Hertha Berlin 1-0 at the Signal Iduna Park.
A flat first half saw little action, with neither side having any clear cut chances. The ball ran away from Jadon Sancho's grasp when he was in on goal, before he put an effort past the post after the break. Alexander Esswein came close for Hertha, but his shot flew wide of Roman Bürki's goal.
After a lacklustre hour of football, Dortmund finally broke the deadlock. Julian Brandt headed it down for Emre Can, who stroked the ball into the bottom corner to give the Schwarzgelben the lead with the first real chance of the game.
A series of half-chances followed, but Hertha showed no sign of getting back into the game. Dortmund saw the victory out, closing the gap between them and league leaders Bayern Munich to seven points with four rounds of fixtures to go.
Key Talking Point
With Bayern Munich showing no sign of stopping, there was simply no room for error from Borussia Dortmund. The gap had to be closed to seven points once again, and a win seemed to be on the cards after the 6-1 thrashing of relegation battling Paderborn last Sunday.
Yet Dortmund never really hit their stride, and were lacklustre all afternoon. Any time they were in front of goal, they didn't seem like scoring without Norwegian marksman Erling Haaland. There was no cutting edge or desire to score, a picture reminiscent of the devastating Klassiker defeat to Bayern last month.
In the end, all it took was one moment of quality from Emre Can, who scored nicely after good linkup play between Sancho and Brandt. But that was it. They only needed that one moment and solitary goal to secure the three points, but there was something missing in a really depleted Dortmund performance.
There should be no complaints about the three points, but in a title race like this – such as it still is – the quality needs to be top notch week in, week out. The battle for the Meisterschaft goes on, but Dortmund cannot afford to lose any more ground in their remaining quartet of fixtures.
Starting XI: Bürki (6); Piszczek (6), Can (7*), Akanji (6); Hakimi (7), Witsel (6), Delaney (6), Guerreiro (6); Hazard (6), Brandt (7), Sancho (6).
Substitutes: Reyna (6), Morey (5), Balerdi (5), Schmelzer (N/A).
There was little to shout about at the Signal Iduna Park, but Dortmund have Emre Can to thank for the three points. Playing as a makeshift centre-back in place of the suspended Mats Hummels, it was the German's delightfully taken finish just before the hour mark that settled the game, a lovely goal to cap off a solid performance at the heart of the Schwarzgelben.
Starting XI: Jarstein (6); Pekarík (5), Boyata (6), Torunarigha (6), Mittelstädt (6); Grujić (6), Skjelbred (5); Lukébakio (6), Darida (5), Dilrosun (6); Ibišević (6).
Substitutes: Ngankam (6), Esswein (6*), Piatek (6), Maier (N/A), Samardžic (N/A).
Borussia Dortmund travel to struggling Fortuna Düsseldorf next Saturday, with the hosts in desperate need of points as they fight for survival. BVB return to action at the Signal Iduna Park the following midweek, when they welcome Mainz to North Rhine-Westphalia on 17 June.
Hertha Berlin face an inform Eintracht Frankfurt in the capital, in what could be an enticing clash at the Olympiastadion next Saturday. Hertha then travel to Freiburg on 16 June, as they continue to head towards what looks to be a mid-table finish.