A slick performance, topped off by goals from Florian Wirtz, Moussa Diaby and Jeremie Frimpong, has enabled Bayer Leverkusen to outclass mid-table RB Leipzig 3-1 to move into the top three of the Bundesliga.
Last season's runners-up Leipzig were still missing goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, defender Willi Orban and coach Jesse Marsch on Sunday as part of a coronavirus outbreak while their local authority ruled they had to host the match without fans amid the latest wave of the pandemic.
But the ghostly atmosphere did not deter Leverkusen as teenage midfielder Wirtz continued his stunning season with his fifth goal of the campaign in the 21st minute.
More poor defending allowed Diaby to fire in from the edge of the box before the break but Leipzig did show life as Andre Silva headed in just after the hour.
But Frimpong, aided by a deflection, immediately restored the two-goal lead and Diaby struck the post as Leverkusen threatened to run away with it.
A needless handball from Edmond Tapsoba gave Dominik Szoboszlai the chance to add some respectability from the spot but his shot hit the post and Leverkusen easily saw out the win.
They are seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich, who won 1-0 against Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday after second-placed Borussia Dortmund triumphed 3-1 at Wolfsburg.
Bayern top the table by a point before travelling to Dortmund next weekend.
Elsewhere, Eintracht Frankfurt defender Evan Ndicka went from villain to hero with a towering injury-time header earning a 2-1 Bundesliga win over Union Berlin.
Ndicka rose highest in the box to power in Filip Kostic's 95th minute cross and secure a much needed victory for Eintracht, who stay 12th but are now within two points of Union in sixth, the last automatic European place.
It was a stunning turnaround for Ndicka who appeared to have cost his side the win when he fouled Sheraldo Becker in the 62nd minute to allow Max Kruse to equalise against the run of play from the penalty spot.
Australian Associated Press