It was less comfortable than he might have liked but Peter Stöger is off to a winning start at Borussia Dortmund. After a shaky opening half, goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa saw BVB to a win over Mainz.
Mainz 0 - 2 Borussia Dortmund
(Sokratis 55', Kagawa 89')
Finally, a Bundesliga win. After almost nine combined months without one for Peter Stöger and his new charges Borussia Dortmund, what would once have been a routine win over Mainz was celebrated with a ferocity usually reserved for much bigger occasions.
Shinji Kagawa settled the nerves of the travelling fans a minute before the end of regulation time, when he stroked home after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had burst on to the Japanese playmaker’s header. But until that point, victory was far from assured.
Dortmund had plenty of the ball in the opening stages but were unable to find a way through the massed defenses of Mainz. In fact it was the visitors who had the better chances of the opening half, with Suat Serdar rattling Roman Bürki’s bar after seven minutes.
Stöger’s first team talk came with the sides deadlocked but the former Cologne boss, who failed to win a game with the Billy Goats this season, didn’t have to wait much longer to break his duck. Omer Töprak rose highest to head Kagawa’s freekick against the post and Sokratis, his central defensive partner, lashed in the rebound on the bounce.
Still Dortmund couldn’t find the fluency they would have hoped for. But as Mainz poured forward chances began to come. After Dahoud and Guerreiro had wasted theirs, Kagawa took his.
"It was very important for us to win today," said Sokratis afterwards. "We were much more compact defensively and now it's important to get out of the situation in the coming games."
Dortmund aren't where they want to be just yet, but for Stöger and his club, the monkey is off their backs.
As it happened
FULL TIME: It wasn't always comfortable, or pretty, but Dortmund have a Bundesliga win for the first time since the end of September. And Peter Stöger has pocketed three points in his first match. Stay right here for our match report.
90+1' -- Yarmelenko jinks through and finds Dahoud, who again hits a dreadful shot. Shouldn't matter now.
89' -- GOAL! Aubameyang latches on to a Kagawa header, dribbles past the keeper, stops for what seems like an age and then finds Kagawa, who puts it in. That's surely it now.
87' -- Dortmund break with Kagawa, he finds Guerreiro, who tees up Dahoud who....drags one wide.
84' -- Aubameyang plays in Guerreiro who curls one over. In truth, the pass was a little behind him.
82' -- Toljan bursts away down the right but hits a dreadful cross in to the Dortmund fans behind the goal.
79' -- Kagawa misses a good chance to get that second. Yarmelenko and Aubameyang combined well and it fell to the Japanese midfielder 12 yards out. But he hit it too close to the keeper.
77' -- Stöger has a chat with Kagawa during a break in play. Dortmund may need a second goal here, nerves are bound to come in to play in the final minutes when you haven't won a game in months.
73' -- A brilliant run from Diallo down the left ends when he strikes for goal. He hits it well from a tight angle, but it's too high. Dortmund are sitting much deeper since the goal.
70' -- Stöger recognizes that Mainz are coming back in to it and replaces Pulisic, who looks tired, with Dahoud. A pretty conservative change presumably designed to ensure Dortmund keep the ball better.
69' -- Maxim lets fly from absolutely miles out and it just whistles past the post then Brosinski has one laid on a plate at the edge of the box but blazes over. Not comfortable for Dortmund right now.
65' -- Töprak slips when clearing a ball and Brosinski gets away down the right. It's cleared for a corner and from that Balogut forces a save from Bürki. But there wasn't much power on the header.
63' -- Mainz are already committing one or two more forward, without going for broke. Will Dortmund's fragile confidence hold?
58' -- The confidence is flowing now. Yarmelenko drives in to the box and flicks the ball behind him in to the path of Guerreiro. The angle was tight but the effort was still tame. Nice stuff though.
54' -- GOAL! Kagawa lifts in a free kick, Töprak heads it against the post but it falls to his center back partner Sokratis who lashes it in and heads straight to the bench for a group embrace.
51' -- Schmelzer and Pulisic combine well down the left and the American cracks off a shot that flies wide. Replays suggest that was deflected but it's a goal kick.
No impact so far, it's a pretty slow start to the half.
46' -- And we're back underway. Let's see if Stöger's words of wisdom had any impact.
HALF TIME: That's it. A pretty even half there, with Mainz probably having the best of the chances and coming closest when they hit the bar early on. Dortmund haven't created a huge amount but have had a couple of moments. They've looked as shaky as ever at the back though. Stöger's got some work to do in his first half time team talk.
45' -- Guerreiro has a pop from the edge of the box but it's psuhed wide of the post.
43' -- Mainz have their turn and Frei almost finds Quaison with a nice little reverse ball, but it just runs out of play.
41' -- That bit of magic comes from Weigl, who splits the defense with a sensational 30 meter through ball. Aubameyang is on to it but doesn't get his balance right and shanks it harmlessly wide. That's Dortmund's best chance to date.
37' -- Dortmund still seeing plenty of the ball but Mainz are stringing five across the back and making life very difficult for Stöger's side. Feels like they need a little magic.
33' -- No goals in Mainz yet but plenty in the other two games. Freiburg lead Gladbach 1-0 while Hamburg are 2-1 down at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.
30' -- Brosinski wriggles his way through on the left and cuts back. Bürki seems to have spilled it but the referee rightly rules it a foul.
28' -- Donati chests it back to the keeper and gets a round of applause . The rule of thumb everywhere seems to be that any pass back above the waist must be applauded. That's just the way it is.
26' -- And a decent ball, which Diallo gets his head to. But he can't keep it down. Stöger's got some serious work to do on Dortmund's defending.
24' -- Schmelzer hooks a low cross across goal but it just evades both Aubameyang and Yarmelenko. Then Mainz break well and Aubemayang takes down Donati. The Dortmund forward worked pretty hard to get back there. Decent position.
23' -- Yarmelenko bustles in to the box but is crowded out. Mainz clear the corner without any great alarm.
18' -- Under little pressure, Diallo overcooks a simple pass out for a corner. It bounces off several heads before falling to Aubameyang. He volleys on the turn, gets good contact but screws it wide.
13' -- Serdar again. Mainz pump one in to the box and Dortmund fail to clear their lines. The young midfielder is in acres of space but takes it on the bounce and lashes over. Another good chance that one.
11' -- Dortmund have had almost 80% of the ball so far but Mainz look content to sit deep and go direct on the break. So far it's all quite slow from the visitors.
7' -- WOODWORK! Mainz go direct and eventually Serdar gets a bit of space on the edge of the box. He hammers one with the right and it rattles Bürki's crossbar. Let off for Dortmund early on.
5' -- Dortmund have their first sustained spell of possession. They work the ball nicely from side to side but Yarmelenko's flick doesn't quite come off.
2' -- Mainz's Serdar has the first shot of the game but can't get over it and the ball sails harmlessly in to the stands.
1' -- And we're off!
-- The players are in the tunnel and Peter Stöger is fully decked out in Dortmund merchandise, telling Sky's pitchside reporter that "there should no discussion" that Dortmund will win tonight. He may well be buoyed by this stat.
-- There's been plenty of talk about Borussia Dortmund's Peter Stöger, the former Cologne coach yet to win a league game this season, but now it's time for action. Dortmund's miserable run has lasted almost as long as that of their new coach.
But Mainz, who were the last team Stöger managed a Bundesliga victory over - on the last day of last season - have won half of their games at the Opel Arena this term and will be determined to ensure Dortmund's latest new era starts with a whimper.
Stöger has opted for experience in his first line up, though Jeremy Toljan is preferred to Marc Bartra at right back. Shinji Kagawa gets a chance to atone for his shocking miss on Saturday and will join Andriy Yarmolenko and Christian Pulisic in an attacking trident behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
For Mainz, Pablo de Blasis is fit enough only for the bench but Swedish attacker Robin Quaison will be looking to double his tally for the season after scoring Mainz's first in their 2-2 draw with Leipzig.