Mainz 0 Borussia Dortmund 2: Stoger's tenure begins with much-needed victory
Borussia Dortmund started life under Peter Stoger with a 2-0 win at Mainz on Tuesday as they broke an eight-game winless run in the Bundesliga.
In his maiden match at the helm since replacing the sacked Peter Bosz, Stoger made an excellent start as second-half goals from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shinji Kagawa second half secured a first victory over top-flight opposition since September.
The Austrian, himself only dismissed by bottom-placed Cologne this month, was immediately appointed by BVB to lead a turnaround and received a glimpse of the work ahead during a laboured first half.
But where they have folded under pressure time and again in recent months, Dortmund persevered through a difficult opening and reaped the rewards.
Sokratis provided the initial relief, bundling home a rebound through a throng of bodies for his second and most important league goal of the campaign.
And Shinji Kagawa, having spurned one clear opportunity, buried the second late in proceedings to sweep Dortmund into a much more palatable fourth after 16 games.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) December 12, 2017
Despite making three changes and shifting from a three-man defence to a back four, Stoger's tenure began much the way his predecessor's ended as the away side came under early pressure.
Suat Serdar crashed a swerving effort off the top of the crossbar in the sixth minute and followed that by firing wastefully high with time and space inside the area.
Abdou Diallo next nodded over from a good position as Mainz settled quickest during the opening exchanges, albeit without making their opportunities count.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, having earlier turned a difficult shot around the upright, should have done better with his first real sight of goal five minutes from the interval, only to hastily poke wide of the same right-hand post after Julian Weigl dropped a pass over the hosts' defence.
Raphael Guerreiro did draw Robin Zentner into the first save for either goalkeeper late in the half, but that was the only shot on target of an otherwise muted first 45 minutes.
After Christian Pulisic failed to hit the target soon after the restart, it was left to a defender to provide the crucial composure in front of goal.
Omer Toprak's close-range header from Kagawa's free-kick came back off the near post and fell for Sokratis to drive in the opener.
— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) December 12, 2017
The visitors' goal was reward for their increasing command of possession, although Roman Burki still needed to be alert to hold an Alexander Hack header.
Diallo then sliced the wrong side of the near post when presented with another chance as the away side's response to adversity began to be tested.
Kagawa, creator of the first, should have buried the match from Andriy Yarmolenko's cut-back but his finish was straight at Zenter.
However, he made no mistake from a second chance to safeguard a morale-boosting three points, the Japan international tucking home at point-blank range after Aubameyang unselfishly looked for his team-mate following a counter-attack.