Football: Timo Werner fires Germany top of Nations League group

Werner (right) celebrates with teammate Antonio Ruediger after scoring the 2-1 lead. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BERLIN (AFP) - Chelsea striker Timo Werner scored twice on his return to Leipzig on Saturday (Nov 14) as Germany went top of their Nations League group with a convincing 3-1 win over Ukraine.

Having joined the Premier League side last July after four years with RB Leipzig, Werner played a starring role behind closed doors at the Red Bull Arena.

The win leaves Germany undefeated in their last 12 games and top of their Nations League group, a point ahead of second-placed Spain with the sides due to meet in Sevilla on Tuesday.

Ukraine took an early lead when Roman Yaremchuk caught the German defence napping.

The hosts roared back with three unanswered goals by Leroy Sane and Werner, who scored either side of half-time, to seal a deserved win.

The game was only confirmed hours before kick-off after five of the Ukraine squad were quarantined after testing positive for Covid-19 on Friday.

However, further tests on Saturday revealed no new cases of the coronavirus.

German captain Manuel Neuer made his 95th appearance, equalling Sepp Maier's record for a Germany goalkeeper, yet the Bayern Munich star was beaten after just 12 minutes.

Ukraine forward Oleksandr Zubkov went to ground in the area, but managed to pull the ball back to Yaremchuk who fired his side ahead.

Ukraine had already beaten Spain and Switzerland and there were a few nervous faces among the Germans, who have now kept just one clean sheet in seven games so far in 2020.

However, the lead was shortlived.

Leon Goretzka sparked a counter-attack and released Sane, who cut back inside and smashed his shot around Ukraine goalkeeper and captain Andriy Pyatov on 23 minutes.

Goretzka created Germany's second goal when he lifted his pass just out of range of Pyatov's out-stretched arms.

Werner was waiting to head home from less than a metre to put the hosts ahead on 33 minutes.

Germany lived dangerously just after the break when a shot by Manchester City midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko took a deflection and clipped the post with Neuer beaten.

Werner doubled his tally after Ilkay Gundogan started the move which saw Matthias Ginter fire in a cross which the Chelsea star fired home on 64 minutes.

The 24-year-old now has 15 goals in 34 appearances for Germany.

However, there was no chance of a hat-trick as he made way for Julian Brandt for the final 15 minutes.

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