Thomas Tuchel left his former stomping ground with three points on Friday as his side returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga. Dortmund were helped along by Marco Reus who ended his own difficult run of form.
Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund
(Reus 17', Mkhitaryan 82')
Goals from Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired Borussia Dortmund to a 2-0 win at Mainz, ending their four-game winless streak in all competitions.
Reus hit the net on 18 minutes, his third goal of the campaign and first since August, to send Thomas Tuchel's men on their way as the Dortmund coach returned to his former employers. The 42-year-old spent five years as Mainz's head coach, establishing the Carnival Club as a regular feature in the Bundesliga and taking the mid table side into the UEFA Europa League on two occasions.
Reus passed up the chance at a second from the spot after the restart, but Mkhitaryan scored his fourth of the season to seal Dortmund's first league win since September 20.
Mainz coach Martin Schmidt praised Tuchel for his work at the Coface Arena and noted the current Dortmund trainer should take the credit for his ascendency to the Bundesliga. Tuchel was jeered by the home crowd as he spoke to German television on the sidelines. Schmidt's progression to the top job at Mainz is similar to the path of Tuchel, the Swiss boss moving up from the U23 side following the departure of Kasper Hjulmand at the beginning of the calendar year.
After four winless games, the international break offered important respite for Dortmund with the recent 5-1 demolition leaving the yellow-and-blacks trailing the current champions by seven points. Previous draws at Hoffenheim and at home to Darmstadt in the Bundesliga showed there are still things to be ironed out, especially at the back.
Joy and pain for Reus
Mainz went for Dortmund's defensive weaknesses from the start and almost netted when Pierre Bengtsson's cross was struck first time by Yoshinori Muto, but the striker was thwarted by Roman Bürki. On 17 minutes, the travelling Dortmund fans had something to smile about as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang combined intelligently with Reus who tucked the ball past Loris Karius from close range.
Scoring his 40th Borussia Dortmund goal and his ninth in 12 against Friday's opposition was the perfect antidote to his recent poor form, which saw him dropped for the match at the Allianz Arena two weeks ago. But seconds after the restart, Reus' frustrations were palpable as he failed to convert from the penalty spot.
Niko Bungert fouled Aubameyang on the edge of the box, although the referee pointed to the spot. Reus, looking for his fourth of the season, was denied from 12 yards by Mainz keeper Karius who saved his fourth kick in eight attempts. But speaking after the match, sporting director Michael Zorc offered a word of support for the forward: "Marco is on the up right now. Everybody is delighted for him."
Aubameyang failed to net for the first time in a Bundesliga match this season with the Gabon striker missing a handful of opportunities midway through the second period. But he turned provider once more as he slid in Mkhitaryan who dribbled round Karius and slotted home from close range with eight minutes left.
Mainz drop to ninth for the moment, while Dortmund cut the gap at the top of the Bundesliga to four points before leaders Bayern Munich take on Werder Bremen on Saturday.