2016 European Championship, Group Stage 2016
  • Shkodran Mustafi (19')
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger (90'+2')

Germany begin Euro 2016 with hard-fought win over Ukraine

World champions Germany got their Euro 2016 campaign off to a winning start as they defeated Ukraine 2-0 in Lille on Sunday.

Shkodran Mustafi and Bastian Schweinsteiger were on target for the Germans to ensure the nation went top of Group C on goal difference, after Poland beat Northern Ireland 1-0.

Ukraine had the first chance of the game, Yevhen Konoplyanka catching a low cross sweetly with his right foot only to see the shot palmed over by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Germany should have taken the lead in the 12th minute when Thomas Muller headed into the path of Jonas Hector, but the left-back wildly swiped at the opportunity.

Joachim Low's men did go in front on 19 minutes when Toni Kroos whipped in a fabulous free kick that Mustafi powered home with his head.

Up the other end, Yevhen Khacheridi was frustrated by Neuer after he met Konoplyanka's corner only to see the effort tipped over by the shot-stopper.

On 29 minutes, Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov prevented it from becoming 2-0 when he made a smart stop to deny Sami Khedira, who had latched onto a fantastic Kroos through ball.

Ukraine came within inches of levelling the scoreline only for Jerome Boateng to make an acrobatic clearance off the line, before moments later Andriy Yarmolenko was flagged for offside after putting the ball in the back of the net.

Early in the second half, Julian Draxler stung the hands of Pyatov with a venomous strike, before Kroos had a shot from outside the box that whistled the wrong side of the woodwork.

In the 57th minute, Yaroslav Rakitskiy tested Neuer with a free kick from range but the Bayern Munich man was equal to it, turning the ball around the post.

It was then Pyatov's turn to spring into action, the Ukraine keeper clawing out Khedira's effort that was destined for the top corner.

A Germany counter-attack saw Mario Gotze tee up Muller but the forward's low shot was comfortably turned away by Pyatov.

Kroos was again the provider when he slipped in Mesut Ozil but the Arsenal playmaker failed to find a way past the goalkeeper.

In the final moments, Germany had a minor scare when Mustafi headed beyond his owner keeper, Neuer, but the ball bounced wide.

And they wrapped up the points thanks to a rapid counter-attack as Ozil found Schweinsteiger at the back post, with the Manchester United midfielder emphatically finishing.

The Germans are next in action against Poland on Thursday while Ukraine take on Northern Ireland.