Second-placed Mainz lost ground on runaway Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund this afternoon as they went down 1-0 at struggling Stuttgart while champions Bayern Munich could only manage a draw at Wolfsburg.
Dortmund moved 13 points clear at the summit with a 3-1 win at third-spotted Bayer Leverkusen last night, and Stuttgart substitute Martin Harnik's 79th-minute strike today proved enough to deny Mainz the opportunity to close the gap.
Bayern also fell further off the pace - the Bavarians finished the weekend 16 points adrift - following their 1-1 draw at Wolfsburg.
Thomas Muller put the visitors in front in the seventh minute and Philipp Lahm missed a penalty for Louis van Gaal's side, who appeared to be in control of the game.
However, they lost Franck Ribery to injury and saw Sascha Riether level matters four minutes from the end after Grafite had also missed a spot-kick for the home side on the stroke of half-time in their first game since the sale of star striker Edin Dzeko to Manchester City.
At the other end of the table, bottom club Borussia Monchengladbach started 2011 by picking up only their third league victory of the season - 1-0 at Nurnberg.
Midfielder Roman Neustadter netted the game's only goal in the eighth minute to get his side within five points of fourth-bottom St Pauli and firmly in the hunt for survival. Javier Punola had the chance to level but missed from the spot four minutes from time.
St Pauli twice relinquished the lead to draw 2-2 at home to sixth-placed Freiburg, Marius Ebbers and substitute Gerald Asamoah seeing their goals cancelled out by a Papiss Cisse brace. The Senegalese striker's double made up for his earlier miss from the spot when the score was 0-0.
Werder Bremen eased their own relegation worries with a 2-1 home triumph over Hoffenheim to condemn Marco Pezzaiuoli to a losing start to his reign at the visitors' helm.
Boris Vukcevic looked to have nicked Hoffenheim a point when he equalised three minutes from time after Claudio Pizarro had given the hosts a first-half lead, but Torsten Frings' last-gasp winner put paid to that idea.
In the late kick-off, Hamburg boosted their European hopes by climbing to seventh place with a 1-0 win at Schalke, Ruud van Nistelrooy's 53rd-minute strike proving decisive in front of 61,673 fans at the Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen.