BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund finally ended its winless streak in the Bundesliga by beating Mainz 2-0 in Peter Stoeger’s first game in charge on Tuesday.
Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos broke the deadlock in the 55th minute and Shinji Kagawa sealed it in the 89th after Dortmund missed a host of chances to do so.
It was Dortmund’s first league win at the ninth attempt since September, and only its second in 14 games across all competitions.
The side’s slump led to the sacking of Peter Bosz on Sunday, when Stoeger took over.
Stoeger was sacked by Cologne the week before after his side failed to win in 14 Bundesliga games, but the Austrian coach is respected for leading Cologne to Bundesliga promotion in 2014 and overseeing steady progress in each of the following seasons – up to this one.
“I admit, after a long time in red and white, the new color (yellow and black) is a bit unusual. I don’t need the black for my figure, but it suits me quite well,” said Stoeger, who oversaw his first Bundesliga win of the season.
“It’s been a while,” he added.
However, Dortmund’s uncertainty from its barren spell was clear to see in Mainz.
Suat Serdar rattled the crossbar early on for the home side, and blazed over minutes later, then Abdou Diallo was next to head over.
The home side was aggressive, first to every ball, winning challenges, and Dortmund struggled to create any attacking opportunities.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should have scored toward the end of the half after a simple ball over the top, but the Gabon striker fired wide when he had only the goalkeeper to beat.
Ten defenders made it hard for Dortmund to break through in the second half, but a foul on Christian Pulisic provided the opportunity. Omer Toprak deflected Kagawa’s free kick onto the post and Sokratis hammered in the rebound.
Dortmund wasted numerous good chances as Mainz tired, but Aubameyang finally set up Kagawa to seal it.
“Part of this victory belongs to Peter Bosz. I wish him all the best,” Stoeger said.
Leipzig dropped points for the fourth consecutive game in a 1-1 draw at Wolfsburg, giving Bayern Munich the chance to go even further ahead.
Bayern is already seven points clear and it hosts bottom side Cologne on Wednesday.
Paul Verhaegh’s first-half penalty was enough for Wolfsburg to remain unbeaten in seven games at home under Martin Schnidt as coach, but the side enjoyed better chances toward the end of the game and Leipzig was grateful for the draw.
Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano was sent off in injury time for his second yellow card.
Freiburg, which came from three goals down to beat Cologne 4-3 away on Sunday, upset Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-0 thanks to Nils Petersen’s first-half penalty. He scored two late penalties in the win over Cologne.
‘Gladbach could have gone third with a victory.
The win over ‘Gladbach took Freiburg out of the relegation zone, where Hamburger SV dropped after losing at home to Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1.
CIARAN FAHEY, Associated Press