Germany 2-0 Ukraine
World Cup champions Germany battled against Ukraine to earn a 2-0 victory tonight as they began their EURO 2016 campaign.
The Germans were certainly grateful to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for some fine first-half saves and a spectacular goal-line clearance from Jerome Boateng as Ukraine proved to be dangerous opponents. Neuer was called into action after just five minutes when he dived at full stretch to keep out a fierce first-time shot from Yevhen Konoplyanka. Germany could have taken the lead in the 13th-minute when Julian Draxler’s cross was headed back towards the penalty spot by Thomas Muller, but Jonas Hector’s standing foot slipped as he shaped to shoot and the ball headed towards the stand.
However, six minutes later their pressure told when Toni Kroos swung in a free-kick from the right and center-back Shkodran Mustafi leapt to power a header into the top corner of the Ukrainian goal. They nearly doubled their lead when a fantastic pass over the top from Kroos was controlled by Sami Khedira, who then fired his shot too close to Ukrainian keeper Andrei Pyatov.
While they looked shaky at the back, Ukraine continued to threaten at the other end with Neuer having to tip Yevhen Khacheridi’s point-blank header over the crossbar. Boateng then had to scramble back to acrobatically clear his own deflection from Konoplyanka’s cross off the line, before Andriy Yarmolenko had a goal disallowed for offside as Ukraine finished the first half strongly.
Germany started the second half seeking a second goal and a 30-yard Kroos strike was denied by the woodwork. Benedikt Howedes then crossed from the right flank but Draxler was unable to keep his header down after evading his marker.
Pyatov once again denied Khedira with a diving save and comfortably dealt with a deflected effort from Mario Gotze, while substitute Andre Schurrle failed to make the most of a fantastic opportunity.
Germany very nearly undid their hard work three minutes from time when Mustafi’s header back to his keeper flew over Neuer, but fortunately the ball bounced beyond the reach of Ukraine substitute Yevhen Seleznyov. Three minutes into added time Germany broke from a Ukraine corner and Mesut Ozil’s cross was converted by substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger to seal a comfortable, if not entirely convincing, win.
Germany sit at the top of Group C joint with Poland after their victory over Northern Ireland.
Man of the Match – Toni Kroos (Germany)
- André Schürrle replaces Julian Draxler 78 mins
- Evgen Seleznyov replaces Roman Zozulya 66 mins
Germany – None
Ukraine – Yevhen Konoplyanka