Berlin, Bayern Munich returned from their mid-season break with a patient 4-0 triumph at Hertha Berlin on Sunday to move up to second in the Bundesliga table.
Thomas Mueller's strike on the hour, a Robert Lewandowski penalty, Thiago Alcantara's cracker and Ivan Perisic's header meant the champions took full advantage of Borussia Moenchengladbach's 2-0 defeat at Schalke on Friday and leapfrogged the Foals.
Bayern lie four points behind leaders RB Leipzig, who won 3-1 at home to Union Berlin on Saturday. Fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund, whose new signing Erling Braut Haaland scored a hat-trick on debut in a 5-3 win at Augsburg, are three behind Bayern after 18 games, Deutsche press agency (dpa) reported.
"We wore Hertha down and the gaps were a bit bigger in the second half. We were a bit too patient in the first half," Mueller, who has now scored in every calendar year since 2009, told Sky.
Hertha coach Juergen Klinsmann, who managed Bayern for an ill-fated season in 2008-09, had a scare in midweek when he was told his coaching licence needed to be renewed but the documents required were at his California home.
The former US coach, appointed at Hertha in November until the end of the season, managed to get the paperwork submitted and was cleared on Saturday to stay as coach against the Bavarians.
"If you are forced to drop deep, then it is hard to play good football," Klinsmann said after Hertha's run of a four games without defeat came to an end.
Bayern dominated from the off without carving out any real openings in the first quarter.
Lewandowski, who had a minor groin operation straight after Bayern's last game on December 21, had a first sniff on 24 minutes but his effort went just wide.
Philippe Coutinho then had a better chance 10 minutes before the break but his shot was too weak.
Davie Selke saw the best first-half opportunity for 14th-placed Hertha but his header when unmarked was well over.
Bayern got closer in the second period with four Perisic chances and eventually broke the deadlock when Mueller banged home Perisic's knock-back.
Lewandowski soon thought he had headed in a second but the referee ruled Rune Jarstein had the ball fully in his hands.
The Poland striker was knocked off the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts by Leipzig's Timo Werner on Saturday. But he levelled it back up at 20 goals apiece from the spot after Lukas Kluenter had been somewhat harshly adjudged to have pulled back Leon Goretzka.
Midfielder Alcantara then fired home with aplomb on 76 minutes and Perisic finally got his goal six minutes from time.
"We were ice cool and took our chances in the second half," said Hansi Flick, who was confirmed last month as Bayern's boss until at least the end of the season.
"It gives the team self-confidence. But we know that we still have 16 games in the league where we will be challenged."
Paderborn welcomed Leverkusen in the late game knowing a win would lift them off the bottom.
But those dreams soon evaporated with Kevin Volland scoring twice in four minutes in the opening quarter to set up a 4-1 win for the sixth-placed side, who trail Dortmund in the final Champions League place by two points.
Julian Baumgartlinger bagged the third before half-time after some poor goalkeeping.
Dennis Srbeny's goal for Paderborn on 51 minutes never looked like sparking a comeback and Kai Havertz's deflected finish put the icing on the cake for Leverkusen.
Paderborn remain three points behind Fortuna Dusseldorf in the second automatic relegation spot and five adrift of Werder Bremen in the relegation play-off berth.
Source: Bahrain News Agency