Germany will be pleased to start their Euro 2016 campaign with a 2-0 win against Ukraine on Sunday. With a number of world-class players, Germany were always favourites, but they were strongly tested by Ukraine, who were impressive in their opening encounter.
Though Germany took three points from the match, they need to thank goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for making some crucial saves. In fact Ukraine's goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov was brilliant during the match as well.
Despite a great start by Germany, it was Ukraine's Yevhen Konoplyanka, who came close to an opening goal in the fifth minute of the match, only to de denied by a brilliant diving save from Neuer. Germany soon resembled a formidable team, with some fluid passes, and brilliant use of their full-backs as well.
Germany scored their first goal of Euro 2016 from a set-piece, which was delivered by Toni Kroos to perfection, and Shkodran Mustafi's bullet header gave Joachim Low's side 1-0 lead in the 19th minute. Germany looked sharper while moving forward, and a determined outfit in search of another goal.
Ukraine, who are a strong counter-attacking side, looked dangerous in the latter stages of the first half, and almost drew level, but was cleared on the goal line by Jerome Boateng. Konoplyanka could not strike the ball well, he just skewed his shot across goal, else it could have gone in. Germany were under pressure as Ukraine stepped up a gear, and finished the first half on a high. Ukraine tested Neuer more than once in the first 45 minutes.
After an entertaining first half, both teams looked calm and composed in the opening minutes of the second. Ukraine was once again denied by Neuer, after a good free-kick from Yaroslav Rakitskiy in the 57th minute.
It was turning out to be a goalkeepers' show as Andriy Pyatov dived to his left to stop a long range effort on goal by Sami Khedira.
With 15 minutes to go for the final whistle, Ukraine were trying to press German players higher up the pitch, but allowed their opponents extra space, and it did not work. In fact, Germany doubled their lead after a quick counter in added time. Bastian Schweinsteiger was the goal-scorer.
Earlier Poland and Northern Ireland, the other two teams of Group C were involved in a close encounter, which ended in favour of Robert Lewandowsky's side. Poland dominated the match right from the start, and broke the deadlock in the 51st minute. Arkadiusz Milik's goal proved to be the winning goal, though, Northern Ireland also came close, but failed to find the back of the net.
With this win, Germany and Poland have got off to a winning start, and they are expected to make it to the knockout stages of the competition as well. Germany face Poland in a crucial group encounter on Thursday.