Dortmund thrash Paderborn in German league
European Champions League hopefuls Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Moenchengladbach have proven way too strong for German Bundesliga strugglers Paderborn and Union Berlin with 6-1 and 4-1 wins.
Bottom side Paderborn resisted bravely but Jadon Sancho's hat-trick, Thorgan Hazard, Achraf Hakimi and a rare strike from veteran Marcel Schmelzer took Dortmund within seven points of leaders Bayern Munich on Sunday despite Uwe Huenemeier's penalty consolation.
But with just five games remaining in the season delayed by the coronavirus epidemic an eighth successive title for Bayern is considered inevitable.
Gladbach went behind Dortmund into third on goal difference from Bayer Leverkusen as Marcus Thuram's double led them over Union.
Both Sancho and Thuram paid tribute to George Floyd, killed at the hands of American police this week, in their goal celebrations.
Bayern crushed Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 on Saturday to follow-up their crucial 1-0 win at Dortmund on Tuesday.
Fifth-placed RB Leipzig, the final side in Champions League contention, can go third again with a win at Cologne on Monday.
Dortmund were without injured teenage striker Erling Braut Haaland and initially struggled to break down determined Paderborn, who look increasingly doomed eight points from the playoff place.
Eventually Hazard nudged home when keeper Leopold Zingerle spilled a 54th minute cross from Emre Can.
Just three minutes later Julian Brandt provided Sancho a tap in and he lifted his shirt to reveal "Justice for George Floyd" on his vest.
And the England international drilled a brilliant second to settle the tie straight after Huenemeier's spot kick, harshly awarded against Can for handball.
Hakimi and Schmelzer, with his first goal since 2013, struck before Sancho broke clear to complete his hat-trick. The three goals in the final five minutes added a fair reflection to the scoreline as Paderborn faded.
"I have said almost nothing," coach Lucien Favre said of his approach at half-time.
"Just that we had to keep playing."
Gladbach were in control from the start against Union in front of several thousand cardboard cut-out fans in the stadium which was otherwise empty.
Florian Neuhaus made the breakthrough in the 17th minute after several defenders failed to halt his run across the box and he found the net via the post.
Union have taken just one point since the restart in the middle of the month and never threatened an equaliser before Thuram's back-post header.
French forward Thuram completed his brace midway through the second half by converting again from Alassane Plea's cross. Plea himself got on the scoresheet with a fine finish late on.
Union had cut the deficit moments after the restart through Andersson's close-range finish from a free kick but rarely looked capable of taking something.
Promoted Union are 14th and just four points above the bottom three having not won in six.