(CNN)It just had to be Robert Lewandowski.
The former Borussia Dortmund hero scored the only goal of the game on his Bundesliga return to the Westfalonstadion as Bayern Munich came out on top in a closely-fought Der Klassiker fixture.
In truth, this was hardly a surprising outcome given the recent opposing fortunes of these two sides.
While the pair may have dominated German football for the past five seasons, Bayern have excelled yet further this year while Dortmund have stalled.
Jurgen Klopp's men sat way off the pace in tenth position at the start of play. Bayern, by comparison, is cantering to its third straight title.
It was perhaps this disparity in league position and the fact there was less on the line than some of the recent classic encounters between the two that ensured the game started at a slower pace.
A tame opening half hour produced few chances. Predictably, Bayern dominated possession and looked the more likely of the two to score.
But Dortmund, which has been far from convincing in defensive matters this season gave little away -- until Lewandowski pounced after 35 minutes.
The Pole initially showed great strength to hold off Dortmund defender Neven Subotic near the halfway line to play in Thomas Muller. Although Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller closed the angle and saved well from the German international striker, Lewandowski was on hand to nod the rebound into an unguarded net.
As has become the custom for returning players these days, Lewandowski refused to celebrate scoring against his former club.
The game quickly returned to its pedestrian pace but Dortmund began the second half with a renewed sense of purpose.
Marco Reus wasted a golden opportunity to level after the hour mark, lashing into the side-netting when played through on Manuel Neuer.
Dortmund took heart and increasingly began to take the game to the visitors. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired high and wide from a tight angle shortly after.
But despite pinning the champions back and coming close through a Reus free-kick as the game ebbed away, there was to be no Dortmund equalizer.
The result means Bayern require a maximum of just four more victories to ensure another Bundesliga crown.
For Dortmund, the end of this torrid season can hardly come soon enough.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen both registered wins in the race for the third automatic Champions League place.
Patrick Herrmann scored twice for Gladbach in its 4-1 victory away to Hoffenheim while Germany international striker Stefan Kiessling also grabbed a brace in Leverkusen's convincing 4-0 win over relegation threatened Hamburg.
The results mean Gladbach now has 50 points for the season, two more than fourth placed Leverkusen with just seven games to play.
Second placed Wolfsburg remain seven points clear of Gladbach thanks to a 3-1 home triumph over Stuttgart.
At the other end of the table, Freiburg moved three-points clear of the relegation zone after a 1-0 win at home to Cologne.
Meanwhile, Hanover was dragged closer to the relegation battle, and behind Freiburg on goal difference, after it could only draw 2-2 with Eintracht Frankfurt.
English Premier League
Arsenal dealt a heavy blow to Liverpool's Champions League hopes with a convincing 4-1 win at the Emirates Saturday.
Three rapid-fire goals in the space of nine minutes from Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez put the Gunners well ahead.
Although Jordan Henderson pulled one back from the spot in the second period, a late Liverpool charge petered out when defender Emre Can was sent off. Olivier Giroud then added a brilliantly struck fourth in injury time.
The result pushes Arsenal above Manchester City into second position although Manuel Pellegrini's men don't play until Monday.
For Liverpool, it means finishing in one of England's four Champions League spots is now unlikely. The Merseysiders lie seven points off the hallowed ground of fourth position.
To add insult to injury, arch rival Manchester United moved eight points clear of Liverpool and up into third place with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa in which Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera scored twice.
Southampton could also have climbed above Liverpool Saturday, however, they went down 1-0 away to Everton.
Further down the table there were important wins for relegation threatened Leicester City and Queens Park Rangers.
QPR claimed a big 4-1 victory away to West Brom while Leicester took down West Ham 2-1 at home. Although both sides remain in the relegation zone, QPR is now only a point away from safety while Leicester lie three points further back.
In the day's late game, league leaders Chelsea won 2-1 at home to Stoke City. Eden Hazard and Loic Remy knocked in the goals for the Blues while Stoke's Charlie Adam scored a spectacular strike from inside his own half.
Roma claimed a valuable 1-0 victory at home to Napoli thanks to a Miralem Pjanic strike. The result marks a first victory at home for Rudi Garcia's men in four months.
The win closed the gap on leaders Juventus to 11 points and stretched its lead over third placed Lazio to four points -- at least temporarily.
Roma's city rivals soon brought the gap back to a solitary point thanks to a 3-1 win away to Cagliari, its seventh consecutive victory.
Elsewhere in Serie A, fourth-placed Fiorentina defeated Sampdoria 2-0 at home while Milan won 2-1 away to Palermo.
Roberto Mancini's Inter could only draw 1-1 at home to financially troubled Parma.
Juventus can re-establish its 14-point lead over Roma should it defeat Empoli in Saturday's late fixture.