FC Koln move to within 4 points of the Europa League places with a 2-1 win against rock-bottom SC Paderborn.
Jorge Mere opened the scoring from a well-worked set piece and Jonas Hector doubled their advantage before the break with an incredible strike from range.
Markus Gisdol’s side dominated proceedings until Dennis Srbeny reduced the deficit with a header in the 73rd minute to create a tense finish.
The Billy Goats have won 8 of their last 10 games in the Bundesliga and have also climbed 11 points clear of the relegation play-off position.
Paderborn, despite their last ditch effort to salvage a point, slumped to their 17th defeat of the season and are 9 points adrift of safety.
Mere opens scoring
Former Sporting Gijon defender Jorge Mere broke the deadlock for FC Koln on 28 minutes. Florian Kainz whipped a menacing corner for Mark Uth to glance to the back post and Mere converted from close-range.
Germany international Jonas Hector doubled their advantage with an exquisite strike from long-range. Uth cut inside from the left and fed the ball into his captain, who took the ball in his stride and launched a venomous effort into the far top corner.
Hector was a calming influence in the heart of midfield and he capped off a sensational 45 minutes with an outstanding goal.
SC Paderborn struggled to pose a threat before the break and Dennis Srbeny came closest for them when he thundered his volley into the side netting from an acute angle.
The contest became stagnated after the interval and FC Koln subconsciously took their foot off the gas. Paderborn punished them when former Norwich City striker Srbeny reduced the deficit with a thumping header.
Paderborn pull one back
Kai Proger delivered an inch-perfect cross into the penalty area and Srbeny guided a darting header beyond the reach of Timo Horn and into the roof of the net.
His goal with 17 minutes of normal time remaining made for an intriguing final 15 minutes and both sides had chances in the dying stages.
Anthony Modeste came within a whisker of restoring their two-goal advantage when he rounded Leopold Zingerle and steered the ball wide from an acute angle.
Horn denied Abdelhamid Sabiri when he tipped his extraordinary free-kick onto the crossbar. The former Huddersfield Town winger unleashed a speculative effort from improbable range and Horn was forced to divert the ball onto the woodwork as it dipped dangerously towards goal.