Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund got second-half goals from super-sub Paco Alcacer and Lukasz Piszczek to edge past Mainz 2-1 on Saturday and open up a seven-point gap at the top.
Their seventh win in the last eight league games lifted them to 30 points, seven ahead of second-placed Eintracht Frankfurt. Champions Bayern Munich are fifth on 21 after a 3-3 draw against promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf.
"Obviously we are looking at the standings but there are other good teams [apart from Bayern]," coach Lucien Favre told reporters. "It is a very balanced league and when you look at our game then it was a hard-fought victory."
"We struggled to find spaces in the first half and were not precise enough in our last pass. We were not good in the second half but we still scored the goals."
Spain international Alcacer, whom Dortmund agreed to sign permanently from Barcelona on Friday, snatched his ninth goal of the campaign in the 66th minute, two minutes after coming on, to lead the scorers' list in the Bundesliga.
Eight of those goals have come in substitute appearances.
Dortmund's joy did not last long with Mainz's Robin Quaison levelling four minutes later.
Dortmund stayed focused and kept up the pressure until defender Piszczek curled in a shot from the edge of the box in the 76th to secure the three points for the Bundesliga leaders.