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Schweinsteiger scores in Germany win

Shkodran Mustafi scored the opener

World champions Germany began their quest for a record fourth European Championship by beating Ukraine.

Despite a mercurial performance from Toni Kroos and an early headed goal from Shkodran Mustafi, they were troubled at the back at times.

Jerome Boateng cleared off the line superbly while keeper Manuel Neuer made several good saves before a late scare.

Yevhen Konoplyanka threatened for Ukraine but they tired, with Bastian Schweinsteiger adding a late second.

The Manchester United midfielder came off the bench in stoppage time and two minutes later scored a sweet half-volley following a swift counter attack.

After Poland beat Northern Ireland earlier on Sunday, Germany now top Group C. On Thursday they face the Poles, who beat them in qualifying for Euro 2016.

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Germany show signs of vulnerability

With seven defeats in 18 games since winning the World Cup in Brazil two years ago, including against Republic of Ireland and England, the three-time European champions have looked shaky by their usual standards. Two of their three qualifying defeats in the past 10 years have come in reaching this tournament.

And there were times when they looked vulnerable against Ukraine, who have never previously beaten them in five attempts.

Although Germany could have added to their early lead, which came from a debatable free-kick after Yaroslav Rakitskiy appeared to get the ball when tackling Thomas Muller, Neuer was kept busy in the German goal and Jerome Boateng made a brilliant goal-line clearance after he diverted Konoplyanka's effort towards his own net.

Up front Mario Gotze was isolated, and had the fewest touches of any player on the pitch. Fellow midfielders Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil were not at their best, although the Arsenal midfielder crossed for Schweinsteiger's well-taken goal.

Joachim Low's side became more resolute at the back as the game wore on, and there is plenty of time for the team to find top form as the tournament progresses, which is a worrying thought for other teams.

Kroos the pass master

Like fellow Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, who was influential in Croatia's victory over Turkey earlier on Sunday, Kroos played like a man full of confidence after winning the Champions League last month.

Not only did he boss the game from the start in open play, his set-pieces were also deadly as he curled the ball in superbly for Mustafi to head in after 19 minutes.

Another brilliant pass from the former Bayern Munich player should have led to Germany doubling their lead but Sami Khedira's shot was straight at Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

The 26-year-old hit the corner of the post and crossbar early in the second half and showed plenty of evidence that his performances will be integral to the success of Germany in France.

Ukraine afforded him plenty of space in which to do damage, but other teams will know they must get a lot tighter to him in order to disrupt Germany's supply line.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Germany

  • 1Neuer
  • 4Höwedes
  • 17Boateng
  • 2Mustafi
  • 3Hector
  • 6Khedira
  • 18Kroos
  • 13Müller
  • 8Özil
  • 11Draxler