A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace proved enough to secure a 2-1 victory for Borussia Dortmund in their Bundesliga season opener against Mainz.
The 27-year-old scored 25 league goals for Thomas Tuchel’s side last term and opened his account for the new campaign by heading home a cross from Andre Schurrle after17 minutes.
Schurrle was the most impressive of the four recent signings who started for the hosts, but Dortmund’s victory was not an altogether convincing one.
Mainz, who finished sixth last season, more than matched Dortmund for long periods of the game and had it not been for a glaring miss from Christian Clemens early in the second half, may well have pulled level before Aubameyang added his second from the penalty spot with a minute left.
There was still time for Yoshinori Muto to convert a powerful close-range header. Ultimately, however, Martin Schmidt’s men failed to improve upon a miserable record of just one win in their previous 12 meetings with last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, who duly preserved an unbeaten home league run dating back to April 2015.
And with Mario Gotze expected to return from his adductor problem in the very near future, Dortmund again look likely to emerge as the main threat to Bayern Munich’s title defence.
Despite the warm conditions at Signal Iduna Park, the opening exchanges were played out at a lively tempo with both sides looking dangerous going forward.
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki was called into action as early as the first minute to keep out an effort from Mainz’s top scorer last season, Yunus Malli, while at the other end, Aubameyang’s close-range effort was tipped spectacularly over by Jonas Lossl.
Lossl was left helpless after 17 minutes, however, as Aubameyang put the hosts in front.
Schurrle provided the pinpoint cross from the left and the Gabon striker took advantage of some slack marking from Jean-Philippe Gbamin to nod home at the far post.
Perhaps helped by the subsequent drinks break midway through the half, Mainz regrouped effectively and created two decent chances in as many minutes, with Burki getting down well to keep out a shot from Fabian Frei before Clemens fired over from just inside the box.
The impressive Schurrle duly responded for Dortmund with a low, angled drive that was well saved by Lossl, but despite finishing the half on the front foot, the home side were unable to add to their lead before the break.
Clemens’ glaring miss was the first action of the second half, the on-loan Schalke man failing to find the target when played in by Frei, before Karim Onisiwo also went close for the visitors moments later.
As they had in the first half, however, Dortmund were quick to respond with Schurrle and fellow new recruits Sebastian Rode and Marc Bartra all kept at bay by Lossl.
It was 2-0 when Dortmund were gifted a second in the 89th minute.
Onisiwo tugged Schurrle back as the former Chelsea star surged into the box and, from the resulting spot-kick, Aubameyang calmly sent Losl the wrong way.
Muto did pull one back in stoppage time, heading home a fine cross from fellow substitute Pablo de Blasis, but it was too little, too late for Mainz.
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