Mainz caused them plenty of problems, with Suat Serdar hitting the bar, before Sokratis fired in the opening goal just after the break.
The points were not secured until Shinji Kagawa made it two in the 89th minute, ending the long wait to pick up three points.
Serdar threatens Dortmund as Aubameyang puts chances wide
Stöger was hastily appointed to replace Peter Bosz on Sunday, just seven days after he was sacked by 1. FC Köln, following Dortmund’s defeat to Werder Bremen on Saturday, which left them eight games without a win. Stöger made three changes, with Jeremy Toljan, Ömer Toprak and Julian Weigl recalled. Sandro Schwarz made just one change to the Mainz team that held RB Leipzig at the weekend, with Emil Berggreen replacing Gerrit Holtmann, who had been struggling with a back injury and was only fit to appear from the bench.
Die Nullfünfer, or more specifically Serdar, did their best to expose Dortmund’s frailties in the opening minutes. The 20-year-old struck over in the opening minute, before he came just inches from scoring, hitting the bar with a powerful effort on goal, with Roman Bürki powerless to do anything about it in Dortmund’s goal. He would have another sight of goal again soon after, but again it was over.
Dortmund’s display was somewhere between patient and tentative. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first sight of goal came in the 18th minute following a poor headed clearance from Leon Balogun, but his volley was well wide. Andriy Yarmolenko could have registered an effort on goal at least soon after, but he took too long to get a shot away in the box, whilst a Kagawa attempt was not troubling Robin Zentner.
Aubameyang would come close again just before the break. A superb ball over-the-top from Weigl took the entire Mainz defence out of the equation, Aubameyang got on the end of it but managed to put it wide. A slightly ambitious attempt from Raphaël Guerreiro was then put wide by Zentner, but in truth there was little power in his shot.
Sokratis and Kagawa find the target as Dortmund battle through
Dortmund started the second half reasonably well. Christian Pulisic was the next man to come close for them, shooting just off target after sharing a one-two with Marcel Schmelzer. Mainz still posed a threat themselves though, although a dangerous-looking Giulio Donati failed to find a red shirt in the box.
Soon after that Serdar conceded a free-kick out on the left for a foul on Pulisic, and it would prove costly for the hosts. Kagawa put it into the box, with a header from Toprak hitting the post. Bouncing away from the crowded area in the middle of the box, the ball found its way to Sokratis, who volleyed it into the ground and past Zentner to score the first goal of the Stöger era.
Despite going behind, and Zentner having to save a Guerreiro shot, Mainz were still playing well. Chances to equalise came from an Alexandru Maxin corner, from which an Alexander Hack header was saved by Bürki, whilst Abdou Diallo could have crossed after cutting into the box, but instead went alone and shot over.
Late on Dortmund threatened a second, first through Kagawa and then Dahoud, and eventually in the penultimate minute of normal time they sealed the victory. A header was deflected by Fabian Frei to Aubameyang, who just about got around Zentner but had defenders blocking his path to goal. Instead he teed up Kagawa, who slotted home to end Dortmund’s, and in fact Stöger’s too (his last league win was against Mainz for Köln in May), long wait for a Bundesliga victory.
It could have been even better. Aubameyang and Yarmolenko combined to set up Dahoud, but his shot was saved by Zentner. It was far from easy but they will just be relieved to have gotten the win – the first in the league since beating FC Augsburg in late September – and until tomorrow’s games at least they move back into the top four. Mainz though are edging closer to the bottom three.
Tuesday’s other Bundesliga results
VfL Wolfsburg 1-1 RB Leipzig (1-0, Verhaegh 15’ (P); 1-1, Halstenberg 53’)
Hamburger SV 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt (1-0, Papadopoulos 9'; 1-1, Wolf 16'; 1-2, Gacinovic 24')
SC Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach (0-1, Petersen 20' (P))