Lille (France), June 13 (IANS) Goals on either half by Shkodran Mustafi and Bastian Schweinsteiger assisted world champions Germany to a 2-0 win over Ukraine in their Group C opener at Euro 2016 in their bid for a record fourth European crown.
The Germans enjoyed greater ball possession from the start. They lead 1-0 at halftime at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
It was the sixth meeting between the two sides with Ukraine never having won once. But they could not carve open a disciplined Ukrainian defence easily who were not overawed by the occasion or at the prospect of facing the world champions.
It was clear they were not going to go down without putting up a fight. Germany went ahead in the 19th minute. Shkodran Mustafi’s perfectly timed header gave them the 1-0 halftime lead.
It was his first international goal. Mustafi beat his marker and towered above everyone else to meet Toni Kroos’ curling free kick from the right just outside the penalty area.
His powerful header went in the top left corner of the net.
Ukraine were not bogged down after conceding and despite Germany’s superiority, they had chances of their own. German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made two crucial saves.
He first stopped Yevhen Konoplyanka with a dive towards his left and then tipped over Yevhen Khacheridi’s effort from close range. Defender Jerome Boateng cleared a goal bound ball off the line. Ukraine had a goal ruled out for offside in the closing stages of the first half.
The second half was similar to the first half with both teams fighting neck and neck. They created chances but could not finish them off as it moved towards the end seemingly to end at 1-0.
But in the final seconds Schweinsteiger latched on to a pinpoint Mesut Ozil pass, of a swift counter-attack, to put the result beyond doubt.