Sokratis Papastathopoulos strike seals debut Dortmund win for Peter Stoger
Under newly appointed head coach Peter Stoger, Borussia Dortmund found their first Bundesliga win since Sept. 30, beating a very poor Mainz side 2-0 away from home on Tuesday night. The Black and Yellows picked up their first clean sheet since matchday five.
It was a hard-fought victory for BVB, who found it hard to create scoring opportunities from open play against Mainz' defensive setup. Centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos volleyed in a rebound following a set piece in the 55th minute to break the deadlock.
It took the visitors until the 89th minute to put a bow around the three points. Shinji Kagawa sent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang free on goal with a header. The Gabonese rounded the keeper, stopped the ball and played it back to Kagawa, who found a way past three Mainz defenders that had gathered on the goal line for the 2-0 end result.
It was not the prettiest win for the Ruhr side, but at the moment they only have to worry about getting results and building confidence. They managed to score the go-ahead goal while playing more compact than under previous manager Peter Bosz. Said compactness helped BVB to maintain a narrow lead without allowing the hosts too many chances to equalize, while providing opportunities on the break to kill the game off, which Dortmund should have arguably done far sooner than the 89th minute.
Dortmund can be very glad to have rediscovered the taste of victory but that may have also been down to Mainz having a torrid day in the office. Once again, BVB players committed a few individual mistakes that could have become costly against more skilful opposition, yet Mainz often lacked the composure to take advantage off balls loosely squared into midfield. In addition, the Westphalians have to do much better on the transition. The 05er had a handful of mishaps in build-up play but the guests too often could not pounce despite a numerical advantage and overbearing pace at their disposal.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Stoger made little adjustments with positive effect. The fullbacks had fewer responsibilities in buildup but more in the defensive departments, Julian Weigl popped up deeper and it highlighted his strengths rather than his weaknesses. Stoger's conservatism might just be what the doctor ordered.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
GK Roman Burki, 6 -- 0.63 expected goals suggest that Burki did not have to sweat too much for his clean sheet, and indeed he didn't.
DF Jeremy Toljan, 6 -- Toljan is one of the early beneficiaries under Stoger. Not only due to his start but also due to an encouraging performance by the 23-year-old.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 7 -- Led the team with three interceptions and put in a solid performance. His volley put the team on the winning road.
DF Omer Toprak, 6 -- Looked less fazed than in recent performances, showed good positioning and awareness albeit against hapless Mainz.
DF Marcel Schmelzer, 7 -- The captain showed leadership with yet another good performance and put his money where his mouth was after Saturday's rant.
MF Julian Weigl, 6 -- He told Sky after the match: "I had a little more freedom today than in the last few weeks, but I don't want to look back." Indeed, Weigl dropped deeper than he was allowed to under Bosz and it very much helped his and Dortmund's game. A very positive outlook for Dortmund fans if Weigl can rediscover his form under Stoger.
MF Raphael Guerreiro, 5 -- His contributions upfront do not offset the lack of defensive commitment. The Portugal international too often is too timid in his tackling.
MF Shinji Kagawa, 7 -- Eventually scored the winner after instigating Dortmund's first with a proper set piece delivery. Kagawa arguably should have scored 10 minutes earlier but directed his shot straight at the keeper. Once again showed his qualities in counter-pressing.
FW Christian Pulisic, 4 -- Too many giveaways, too many bad decisions. It was not the day for 19-year-old to impress his new coach but more chances will arrive.
FW Andrey Yarmolenko, 6 -- Yarmolenko was once again somewhere between genius and lunacy. His defensive contributions were weak as always, he played some questionable passes laterally into midfield. But then he picks himself up and pulls some great plays out of the back that should have yielded at least one assist.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 -- Only an assist for Aubameyang, who could have scored in the first half chasing an amazing ball by Weigl over the top of the defence.
MF Mahmoud Dahoud, 5 -- Was the culprit of wasting promising scoring chances after coming on in the 70th minute. Dahoud is yet to fully click in Dortmund's midfield.
MF Nuri Sahin, NR -- The obligatory late substitute to take a few more seconds off the clock.
Stefan Buczko covers Borussia Dortmund for ESPN FC. Twitter: @StefanBuczko.