Marco Hartmann, Lucas Röser and Haris Duljevic stunned the hosts to put their side 3-0 up with three cracking goals.
Benito Raman did pull one back for Düsseldorf, but they never fully recovered and failed to take the opportunity to return to the top of the table.
Dresden rip up the form book
Both teams made four changes after defeats last weekend, Düsseldorf to FC Ingolstadt 04 and Dresden at 1. FC Kaiserslautern, having led 1-0 until the 85th minute. Kaan Ayhan, Luaks Schmitz, Takashi Usami and Oliver Fink returned for the hosts, whilst Philip Heise, Hartmann, Niklas Hauptmann and Erich Berko were back for third-bottom Dresden.
Uwe Neuhaus’s side could not have dreamed of a better opening ten minutes. Raphael Wolf was nearly robbed of the ball by Duljevic before Hauptmann then won a corner. That was whipped in by Heise, and Hartmann, who had apologised for his two mistakes which had led to the Kaiserslautern goals last week, was given the freedom to run onto it to score with a powerful, diving header.
Former leaders Düsseldorf have seen their form falter in recent weeks and they were about to be plunged into a nightmare situation. Less than two minutes later, Fink, back of injury, then gave the ball away under pressure in the middle of the park. Hauptmann sought out Röser, who from the edge of the box pinged it into the top corner to put the guests two in front.
It would get even better for them. Duljevic went alone after a sideways pass from Rico Bentaelli. He worked his way into space, before taking aim with an even sweeter strike, which like before Wolf had little chance of saving.
Düsseldorf go in search of a recovery
That was as good as it got for now, as Düsseldorf then came close to pulling one back. Rouwen Hennings laid the ball off to Usami, whose strike rattled the underside of the crossbar. The danger wasn’t cleared, with a Usami cross going over the head of Marvin Schwäbe, before a shot from Fink was saved by the goalkeeper.
The hosts continued to respond well following their awful start, but the game remained open. After Duljevic was fouled by Fink on the edge of the box, Heise had a chance of a fourth from the free-kick but hit the wall, whilst later on an excellent cross from him was just out of the reach of the onrushing Berko.
Düsseldorf’s general play after the opening act had deserved a goal and that they would get soon after. A misguided header back from Paul Seguin gifted the chance to Raman. Schwäbe came out of his goal but the Belgian forward got around him and placed the ball into the empty net.
There was one more chance for Dresden before the break, with a good attacking move almost finished off by Bentaelli, however his shot was saved by Wolf.
No comeback for the hosts
The second half, perhaps inevitably, did not have the same helter-skelter feel, but both sides had chances early on. Raman took a shot on the run, which was saved by Schwäbe, whilst from a wider angle Seguin forced a much more difficult save out of Wolf from his effort. An alternative option though would have been to cross to Röser in the centre.
Another Heise cross came close to creating the elusive fourth goal for Dresden, but Röser wasn’t able to fully get a hold of it in the box. Friedhelm Funkel brought both Kuljovic and Nielsen on to reinvigorate the Fortuna efforts, without much luck.
Röser had a couple more chances off target in the closing stages, whilst Dresden defended stoically to secure just a fourth win or the season. This was perhaps summed up in stoppage time, when Hartmann dived in to get his head on the ball ahead of Hennings, getting the striker’s boot in his face for his troubles.
Dresden remain in 16th place despite the win, although they are now three points clear again of SpVgg Greuther Fürth, level on points with VfL Bochum and within two points of the six teams above them. Düsseldorf failed to capitalise on leaders Holstein Kiel being held by Ingolstadt on Saturday, remaining one point behind ahead of the top two meeting next weekend.