BERLIN (AP) -- Franck Ribery scored twice for Bayern Munich to beat Schalke 2-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday and stem talk of a crisis engulfing the club.
Ribery terrorized the Schalke defense throughout and put the home ahead in the 36th minute when he chipped the goalkeeper before stroking the ball into the empty net.
The French winger struck again after the interval, combining with Thomas Mueller on the left before firing a deflected shot beyond the helpless Timo Hildebrand in the 55th.
Bayern started the day in third after a 0-0 draw at bottom side Freiburg last weekend, and Schalke would have overtaken the Bavarians with a win.
Before kickoff honorary Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer declared it "the most important game of the whole season."
Bayern remains four points behind leader Borussia Dortmund which stretched its unbeaten run to 17 games with a hard-fought 3-1 home win over Hannover in the late game Sunday.
Robert Lewandowski scored twice for Dortmund, though he could have claimed a hat trick after missing an open goal early on, striking the post and having a goal ruled out.
The Poland striker opened the scoring in the 27th, Lukasz Piszczek sending his compatriot free on the right before Lewandowski hammered the ball past Ron-Robert Zieler at the near post.
Lewandowski claimed his 16th league goal in the 54th, and again it had a Polish flavor as Jakub Blaszczykowski controlled a long ball from Piszczek on his chest before setting it back for the striker to score.
Didier Ya Konan pulled one back in the 60th, within a minute of coming on as a substitute. The Ivorian struck a sublime effort from 25 meters (yards) on the left that curled into the top right corner.
Hannover went close to claiming an equalizer before substitute Ivan Perisic finally sealed the result in injury time to keep Bayern at bay.
Hildebrand was called into early action on his first league start for Schalke, denying Mueller and then Arjen Robben from the rebound in the sixth.
Mueller almost scored a minute later, but was unable to direct the ball on target after Hildebrand parried another shot from Robben, and Bayern continued to spurn chances with Mueller failing to spot the better positioned Mario Gomez before shooting wide in the 23rd.
The breakthrough came as Schalke began to threaten. Luiz Gustavo shouldered Marco Hoeger off the ball before launching a long ball forward for Ribery.
The Frenchman scooped the ball over the approaching Hildebrand with his first touch and guided it to the unguarded net with his next.
Ribery's next effort was deflected wide shortly afterward, and Bayern almost scored from the resulting corner. Hildebrand denied Mueller with a reflex save, and Holger Badstuber was unable to put the ball over.
Christian Fuchs came closest for Schalke with a powerful drive, only to be denied by former Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's fingertips.
Badstuber hit the crossbar with a header after the interval, before Joel Matip fired wide from the counterattack with only Neuer to beat.
Ribery effectively decided the game with his second, though there was still time for substitute Ivica Olic to have a goal disallowed for offside in the 73rd, when Mueller's goalward header may have been going in anyway.
"It's not easy for us at this time, but it was vital to show a reaction. Schalke are a good team and these three points are important," Ribery said.