Euro 2016 round up: Germany 2 Ukraine 0 - and what the result means

German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer reacts after the Uefa Euro 2016 match between Germany and Ukraine.
German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer reacts after the Uefa Euro 2016 match between Germany and Ukraine.PHOTO: EPA

It is no wonder that the Germans coined the word "Turniermannschaft" - or tournament team. When the major tournaments come around, Germany up their game.

In their Euro 2016 opener against Ukraine, Die Mannschaft made light of their form, having arrived in France with four losses from their last seven games.

Shkodran Mustafi, starting in place of injured centre-back Mats Hummels, headed the reigning world champions into the lead after just 19 minutes. With almost the last kick of the game, substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger sealed the victory by finishing off a swift counter-attacking move with a half-volley.

In between, Ukraine created enough opportunities to score but Manuel Neuer showed why he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. All of those chances, however, came in the first half. After the restart, Germany dictated proceedings and were untroubled.

They have now won every first match of a major tournament under Joachim Low, following wins against Poland at Euro 2008, Australia at the 2010 World Cup and Portugal in 2012 and 2014. The combined score? 13-0.

The tournament's second-favourites are in business once again.

 

Match highlights

 - Inside five minutes, Yevhen Konoplyanka's first-time effort is headed for the top corner, but Neuer intervened.

- Julian Draxler's cross is headed down by Thomas Muller and into the path of Jonas Hector. The defender's shinned effort on his weaker right foot kept the scores level in the 13th minute.

- Six minutes later, Germany were in front. Mustafi attacked Toni Kroos' free kick into the six-yard box and Andriy Pyatov was well beaten.

- Ukraine had a chance to equalise through a header of their own in the 27th minute. Konoplyanka's corner found Yevhen Khacheridi unmarked. Neuer pulled off a save from close range.

- Kroos' ball over the top put Sami Khedira through on goal in the 29th minute. Pyatov managed to stay big and his defence mopped up the danger.

- Jerome Boateng cleared off the line to deny Yevhen Konoplyanka. Andriy Yarmolenko's chip found the Sevilla man in space and his volley hits Boateng. The defender recovered, raced back to the goal-line and hacked the ball away.

- Another peach of a pass by Kroos sent Mesut Ozil through on goal. With defenders closing in on him and Pyatov narrowing the angles, he can only shoot straight at the goalkeeper.

- Germany counter-attack after an interception by Mustafi in added time. Ozil cut inside and found Schweinsteiger. The midfielder struck a half-volley past Pyatov.

The talking point

Were Germany lucky to get the free kick that led to their opener? Yaroslav Rakitskiy appeared to be harshly penalised for a foul after winning the ball cleanly from Muller. And should Low stick with Mario Gotze as a false nine? The forward was almost anonymous in the first half, but he did grow into the game after the restart.

Man of the Match

Kroos. The Real Madrid star ran the show in the middle of the park. He controlled possession, completed over 112 passes, and created five chances for his team-mates.

What the result means

With Poland also victorious earlier on Sunday, the big clash between Adam Nawalka's side and Germany should determine who tops Group C. Sunday's result cannot mask pre-tournament concerns over Germany's defence, and a familiar face - Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski - will test that backline.

Ukraine left the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille with nothing despite creating a host of good chances. They can be heartened by their first-half performance but need to be more clinical if they are to progress to the knockout rounds.

 Key statistic

Germany have never lost their opening match at the European Championships in 12 appearances. This is the sixth time that they have made a winning start.

What they said

Low: "It was an intense and fast-paced game. In the first half we had a few problems going forward, losing the ball and allowing them the chance to counter. In the second half we did very well, keeping our shape and moving the ball about well."

Ukraine manager Mykhailo Fomenko: "Germany are like a machine. They are full of great players and my players knew they would be up against a team with a very high level of quality."