BERLIN, Feb 4, 2013 (AFP) - Defending champions Borussia Dortmund went second in the Bundesliga on Sunday after a thrilling 3-2 victory at Bayer Leverkusen, but remain 12 points adrift of league leaders Bayern Munich.
Dortmund's away win allowed them to claim second spot from Bayer, but it was a battle royal as the hosts came from 2-0 down to level before Poland striker Robert Lewandowski's winner settled Borussia's nerves.
"If ever it were true that a 2-0 lead is dangerous, then it's now," said relieved Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp as his side relaxed with a 2-0 lead after eight minutes.
After Bayern's 3-0 win at Mainz 05 on Saturday, Munich are on course for the German title.
Only once, in 2008/09, has a team managed to overturn an 11-point deficit to win the league when Wolfsburg caught Hoffenheim.
Munich coach Jupp Heynckes described the win at Mainz as a "very important victory on the road to the title" while Borussia coach Jurgen Klopp has dismissed "ridiculous" thoughts of his team winning a third league title.
With Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller ruled out with an infection, Australian Mitchell Langerak made his first Bundesliga appearance since April 2012 and put in a solid display.
Dortmund needed just eight minutes to take a two-goal lead after a sublime Lewandowski pass left Marco Reus through on goal and with only Bayer goalkeeper Bernd Leno to beat.
That was in the third minute and Leno's luck deserted him five minutes later when he made contact with Lewandowski's foot, referee Deniz Aytekin showed him a yellow card and awarded the penalty which Poland midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski put away.
Leverkusen roared back after the break with Langerak forced into a number of saves before midfielder Stefan Reinartz scored two goals in four minutes early in the second-half to put the home side level.
Dortmund replied immediately with Lewandowski winning the race to tap home a Leno parry and hand the visitors a winner on 63 minutes which would eventually stand up.
The champions were awarded a penalty on 70 minutes, when Blaszczykowski was fouled by Poland teammate Sebastian Boenisch, but Leno was given a simple save when Blaszczykowski mistimed his spot kick.
In a frantic final 15 minutes, Dortmund held on despite Leverkusen firing in 12 corners and 26 shots on goal over the 90 minutes.
"The difference was that we did not create the goals, while Dortmund were ice-cold in their finishing," said Leverkusen midfielder Andre Schuerrle.
Earlier Nuremberg coach Michael Wiesinger picked up his first win since taking charge of the struggling outfit in December, as his team enjoyed a 2-1 win at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach.
On Saturday, Croatia striker Srdjan Lakic celebrated his debut for Eintracht Frankfurt, having quit Wolfsburg last Tuesday, with both goals in their 2-0 win at Hamburg which kept his team fourth.
Bottom side Greuther Fuerth broke their 17-match winless streak with a shock 2-1 victory at Schalke 04, which left the Royal Blues with just one win in their last eight league games.
Schalke coach Jens Keller, who only took charge in December after Huub Stevens was fired, turned up to training on Sunday with home-made banners from disgruntled fans reading "Keller Out!" around the pitch.
Australia midfielder Robbie Kruse warmed up for Wednesday's friendly against Romania in Malaga with two goals in Fortuna Duesseldorf's 3-1 win at home to VfB Stuttgart.
Hoffenheim remain in the bottom three despite picking up their first win since November with a 2-1 victory at home to Freiburg.
Wolfsburg were held to a 1-1 draw by strugglers Augsburg and on Friday, Bayern's on-loan striker Nils Petersen scored two late goals to give Werder Bremen a 2-0 win at home to Hanover 96.