Mustafi and Schweinsteiger give World Champions Germany a win in their Euro 2016 opener with Ukraine

Mustafi and Schweinsteiger give World Champions Germany a win in their Euro 2016 opener with Ukraine
Photo: VAVEL UK
Germany
2 0
Ukraine
Germany: (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Höwedes, Boateng, Mustafi, Hector; Khedira, Kroos; Müller, Özil, Draxler (Schürrle 78'); Götze (Schweinsteiger 90').
Ukraine: (4-3-3): Pyatov; Fedetskiy, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk; Sydorchuk, Stepanenko, Kovalenko (Zinchenko 74'); Yarmolenko, Zozulya (Selenyov 66'), Konoplyanka.
SCORE: 1-0, Mustafi 19'. 2-0, Schweinsteiger 90'+2.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson (ENG). Booked: Konoplyanka 68'.
Germany celebrate after clinching all three points. (Photo: FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Germany celebrate after clinching all three points. (Photo: FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Thank you for choosing to follow today's game with us here at VAVEL and myself, Ameé Ruszkai. We'll leave you with Danial Kennedy's report of tonight's game, as Germany defeated Ukraine 2-0. Be sure to come back tomorrow, when we'll have full coverage of the day's Euro 2016 action once again! Until then, goodnight!

However, that win for Poland wasn't enough to keep them at Group C's summit, as Germany nick top spot from them merely on goal difference, having taken part in the only game today that brought with it more than one goal.

And speaking after the game, Northern Ireland's captain, Steven Davis, admitted that his team need to be more adventurous in possession next time out. The Green and White Army will need a result against the Ukraine in game number two following that defeat if they want to keep their dreams of a place in the next round alive.

Following that was Group C's opening game; between Poland and Northern Ireland. The former bidding for their first ever win at a European Championships, the latter at their first major tournament for 30 years - it was the Poles who came out on top, again by just one goal. 1-0 was the final score once more, with Ajax's Arkadiusz Milik on target. The full report of that game, can be found here

Group D's opening fixture kicked us off today at 2pm, with Croatia taking on Turkey. It was the former who emerged victorious, thanks to a wonder strike from Luka Modric. You can read the full report of that game, right here.

With this the final Euro 2016 game today then, let's quickly run through what else has happened on a Sunday filled with football.

Germany applaud the travelling fans after opening their Euro 2016 account with a 2-0 win over Ukraine. (Photo: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Germany applaud the travelling fans after opening their Euro 2016 account with a 2-0 win over Ukraine. (Photo: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

However, Germany reasserted their authority in the second half and barely gave Ukraine a touch of the ball. Schweinsteiger's late goal then sealed things in stoppage time, meaning his country move to the top of Group C on goal difference - Poland only beating Northern Ireland 1-0.

Mustafi's header on 19 minutes broke the deadlock, but the Ukraine made the rest of the second half difficult for Germany. Boateng had to make a stunning goalline clearance, while Neuer was called upon numerous times.

And that's full time! The World Champions open their Euro 2016 account with a win and three points, maintaining their incredible record of never having lost an opening fixture at the finals.

... And is celebrating his 24th goal for Germany just moments later. (Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
... And is celebrating his 24th goal for Germany just moments later. (Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

GOAL! Schweinsteiger seals it! From the Ukraine's corner, Germany counter, with Özil racing down the left. He spots the captain at the back post and picks him out beautifully, with the Manchester United midfielder tapping home with one touch to mark his history-equaling appearance in style.

90+2 - Ukraine are leaving it late, but they're going for it. Yarmolenko cuts inside and sees his shot deflected behind for a corner. That set piece is dealt with easily by Germany.

Schweinsteiger replaces Götze. Moments later, he was celebrating his 24th goal for his country. (Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Schweinsteiger replaces Götze... (Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

90 - Schweinsteiger comes on for Götze to see out the final minutes. That marks his seventh major tournament finals appearance. Meanwhile, there will be three added minutes.

87 - Chance! Özil gets between the two centre-halves and is baring down on goal, but Pyatov comes out and smothers his shot. He holds onto the ball and releases it quickly, launching it down the pitch where it causes problems for Germany. Mustafi is unaware that Neuer has come out of his net behind him, and gets a nasty shock when he turns around to see his headed back pass heading near his own goal. However, Neuer ensures Selenyov doesn't get to the ball to tap it home before Boateng clears.

86 - The game is slowly nearing full time now after a second period that has been much duller than the entertaining first. Half time seems like it came at a bad time for the Ukraine, interrupting their lively response to conceding. They've offered little since the interval, with Germany completely dominant.

82 - Less than five minutes after being subbed on, Schürrle could wrap things up for his team too but, as he turns and shoots, his effort bounces against his standing foot and trickles wide for a goal kick.

78 - Germany make their first substitution of the evening as Draxler is replaced by Schürrle.

76 - A nice lay off from Götze for Müller sees the latter drive a low shot at goal from 20 yards, but Pyatov gets down well to beat it away.

74 - Ukraine's second change of the day sees Kovalenko replaced by Zinchenko.

68 - That first is followed by a first booking of the game, as Konoplyanka is shown a yellow after bringing down Götze. Germany restart play and the ball is drilled into the box for Draxler to attack, but his header is over the bar.

66 - Today's first change of the day sees Zozulya replaced by Selenyov. The striker, who has only three goals this season, has offered little going forward and it's not surprise to see his number is up.

Özil was guilty of being too selfless on more than one occasion on Sunday evening. (Photo: PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Özil was guilty of being too selfless on more than one occasion on Sunday evening. (Photo: PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

65 - Özil, as brilliant as he is, continues to be too selfless in this game. For the umpteenth time, the Arsenal man wanders into a positive position to shoot or drive at the defence and passes back, losing the ball. Germany are being very patient and not forcing the pass, happy to keep the ball rather than risk losing it. But could that come back to haunt them? There's not too much urgency and Ukraine remain a threat on the counter. It's only a slender 1-0 lead that they boast, after all.

61 - Another good save in this game - this time from Pyatov. Khedira strikes, but the Ukraine stopper is equal to it, pushing the ball away from the top corner of his goal.

57 - Neuer is forced into a save as Rakitskyi low and powerful free-kick is parried away. Not a bad effort, but it was never going to beat arguably the world's best goalkeeper.

How the Ukraine will wish they had another Andriy Shevchenko in their current squad. (Photo: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)
How the Ukraine will wish they had another Andriy Shevchenko in their current squad. (Photo: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)

56 - Andriy Shevchenko, formerly of Chelsea and AC Milan and now the Ukraine's assistant coach, wanders out of the dugout to get some words across to his team. How they could use a player with his goal-scoring ability right now...

52 - Germany are being limited to long range efforts so far in this half as Kroos lets one fly from the best of 30 yards. He's not far off scoring a stunner either, with his strike shaving the woodwork as it was driven towards goal.

48 - Draxler tries his luck on the edge of the box as Germany start well, but it's parried well by Pyatov, who stops it from travelling into the bottom far corner of his goal.

And we're back underway for the second period!

They could have the game to bed by now, but have yet to deliver that knockout blow that we know they, as a heavyweight of world football, are capable of.

For Löw's side, they need to get back to how they started the game. The flowing and fluid passing was terrific to watch but effective too. However, they need to be careful not to mess about in their defensive third with the ball, especially with the Ukraine pressing.

With plenty of positives to take into the break, there's no reason for Ukraine to throw in the towel just yet. Their widemen are posing all sorts of problems, with them being allowed plenty of time and space to get the ball into the box, which is causing panic for Germany at times.

The leaders in the game were on the ropes towards the end of the first period, throwing everything at the Germans but failing to hit back to level the scores.

The underdogs in this fight, Ukraine have certainly given it their all so far and have done brilliantly to throw the Germans off balance, particularly in the second half of the half.

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko is in attendance today, but how will he feel about his country's performance so far in this bout with a European heavy weight? (Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

And that's half time. Germany lead, but it's been far from comfortable. Ukraine have grown into the game and ended the half as the better side. However, Mustafi's header still separates the two - thanks to a Boateng clearance and an offside flag.

45+1 - A free-kick from the boot of Kroos is the final action of the half, but it's not much action as the Ukraine clear their lines relatively easily. 

45 - Boateng is everywhere at the moment. He blocks a cross from the left now as Ukraine win a corner. Can they nick an equaliser before the break? Not with this chance; Neuer comes out and claims despite pressure from Khacheridi. Meanwhile, there will be one minute of added time.

41 - This is a very good spell for the Ukraine, who won't want half time to come. They're pressing well up the pitch and forcing mistakes out of Germany, as Kroos this time almost stitches up Boateng whose clearance is only as far as Shatov. He wins a throw-in high up the pitch then as his side keep up the pressure.

39 - Another close call for Germany, as the offside flag denies the Ukraine an equaliser! It is, however, the right decision, with Fedetskyi in an offside position as he connected with a cross into the box before it found it's way into the back of the net.

Boateng prevents an own goal with a simply outstanding clearance on the line. Incredible defending. (Photo: FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Boateng prevents an own goal with a simply outstanding clearance on the line. Incredible defending. (Photo: FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)

37 - So so close! Ukraine are inches, if that, away from an equaliser, but for a simply incredible goalline clearance from Boateng! Konoplyanka's mishit shot hits the defender and he recovers from what would have been an own goal by scrambling it clear while off balance. Wow!

32 - Ukraine are still going for it though and are by no means out of this contest. Shevchuk tries his luck this time as a corner falls to him on the edge of the box, but it's wide of the mark.

30 - Chance! Kroos picks out the run of Khedira absolutely incredibly, who brings the ball down well and strikes it at goal, only for his shot to be right at Pyatov, albeit who saved well. What a goal that would have been. The chance probably didn't fall to the player Germany would have hoped for, but he made a great run and almost took it brilliantly.

26 - Ukraine now have their own succession of set pieces as they look to hit back with an equaliser. Müller defends the first, a free-kick, and then the resulting corner is headed goalwards by Khacheridi, who brings the best out of Neuer. His tip over the bar gives them another corner, but Germany deal with that effectively.

24 - Mustafi attacks the delivery into the box, but he's beaten to it by the fist of goalkeeper Pyatov and then bundles him over. Free-kick to Ukraine.

23 - Can Germany repeat the trick? Kroos is stood over a corner as Germany ramp up the pressure.

ACTION SHOT: Mustafi celebrates with his Germany teammates after opening the scoring. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
ACTION SHOT: Mustafi celebrates with his Germany teammates after opening the scoring. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

19 - GOAL! Germany lead through Mustafi! A dubious free-kick is given against Rakitskiy, who looked to have won the ball fairly from Müller. However, Kroos delivers a perfect cross and Mustafi produces a perfect header, powerfully finding the top corner and breaking the deadlock!

13 - Germany are finding space to exploit now and holes in the Ukraine's defence. Götze picks up the ball in a promising position this time, but he's dispossessed as he enters the area.

12 - As I say that! A cross from Draxler is headed back down for Hector, up from left-back, by Müller, but he can't keep his volley under control as he slices it wildly into the air from a good position inside the area.

11 - After a high tempo and end-to-end start, things have settled now and there's not been much action since those two chances for either side. Germany getting into a rhythm and dominating, but they've not really threatened much yet.

4 - What a save! Neuer is at full stretch to deny Konoplyanka a stunning goal against the World Champions after less than five minutes. He hits it first time with plenty of spin, but the Bayern Munich stopper parries it behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.

2 - Draxler with a half chance early on as Germany start well, but he fires wide.

And we're off! Germany get us underway.

In this game, however, the teams are out and the national anthems are being played. Not long until kick off. Hopefully, this game won't follow the trend of today and will have more than the one goal.

Meanwhile, it's Poland who top Group C ahead of this game after they beat Northern Ireland, also by a 1-0 scoreline. Arkadiusz Milik scored the only goal and here's the report of that.

Croatia kicked the day off with a win, beating Turkey 1-0 thanks to a wonder strike from Luka Modric. You can check out the report of that right here.

This is the third game from France today, following our Group D and C openers respectively. 

The only man in Germany's starting XI tonight that didn't clinch the World Cup with them back in 2014 is Hector. A team with a winning mentality, then.

For the Ukraine, it's the names of Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka that stand out. They will cause problems on either flank for Germany.

With Hummels injured, as expected, it's Mustafi that partners Boateng, not Jonathan Tah, who was called up as a replacement for the injured Antonio Rüdiger.

No real surprises in either team. Löw has his favourites and has gone with a rather expected line-up. Draxler gets the nod in a left-wing spot that was up for grabs, while Götze is deployed as a false nine in a team with no recognised striker.

Ukraine XI (4-3-3): Pyatov; Fedetskiy, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk; Sydorchuk, Stepanenko, Kovalenko; Yarmolenko, Zozulya, Konoplyanka.

Germany XI (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Höwedes, Boateng, Mustafi, Hector; Khedira, Kroos; Müller, Özil, Draxler; Götze.

The teams are out! Here we are...

Germany are the favourites, and rightly so; the Ukraine have yet to defeat them despite five attempts, losing three and drawing two. But, will the pressure get Löw and his team? Or will they continue to show machine-like characteristics to hold their nerve?

With so many talented players on show, the Stade Pierre-Mauroy should be in for a treat tomorrow evening as one of the most exciting groups on paper completes it's first round of games.

Fomenko, meanwhile, has a full squad to pick from and should deploy an exciting XI in a 4-3-3 set-up - with Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka the ones to watch on that front line. Roman Zozulya is expected to be the man through the middle, though his four goals at international level from 25 caps and mere three league goals all season do not convince.

Despite the talent that the Germans possess, Löw remains weary of the opposition's threat on the counter though, saying that his side "are capable of beating Ukraine," but that they must be "careful in possession" to do so.

1. FC Köln's Jonas Hector, another quality but inexperienced defender with just 14 caps, is likely to play at left-back, while Benedikt Höwedes will play at right-back in Germany's first major tournament post-Phillip Lahm.

Valencia's Shkodran Mustafi is expected to fill in for him in the heart of defence then, slotting in alongside Jérôme Boateng. The 24-year-old may only have 10 caps to his name, but he has proven his quality throughout his short but successful career so far, and had another stellar campaign in Spain this year.

Löw knows that a win will not be easy tomorrow. (Photo: Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)
Löw knows that a win will not be easy tomorrow. (Photo: Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)

However, Germany have adapted to deal with this sort of situation in recent years, the manager believes. "In the past two years, we have developed further," he said. "We can now start with a back three or with just two central defenders, or we can switch during a game," which makes his options without Hummels even vaster.

Speaking on Hummels' fitness on Saturday, Löw said he is "at 100 per cent" and has been "training with the team," but he believes that the clash with Ukraine will "surely" come just "a bit too early for him."

The pressure the defence will be put under if they lose possession will be even tougher to deal with given that centre-back Mats Hummels is a huge doubt for the fixture with a calf problem. In fact, the 27-year-old, who recently signed for Bayern Munich from Borussia Dortmund, has already been ruled out of tomorrow's game by his manager.

Löw, meanwhile, was quick to point out in his pre-match presser that the Ukraine will be no easy game for his team. "They are very physical and have quick players on the wings, who are very dangerous when it comes to counter-attacks," he said.

"The beginning is always the most difficult. Maybe we are lucky a bit in this aspect as we have Germany as our first opponents and this team will play quality football no matter what."

However, Germany have something to prove this summer, with them having gone 20 years without winning this tournament. "They have the highest ambitions," said the Ukraine coach, who called their World Cup win in 2014 "history already."

Speaking to the media, Fomenko compared the Germans to machines, with them almost programmed to succeed. "Everybody in our camp understands what a hard game this will be," he said.

Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (right), pictured here celebrating with Thomas Müller in 2011, will come up against several former Bayern Munich teammates tomorrow.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (right), pictured here celebrating with Thomas Müller in 2011, will come up against several former Bayern Munich teammates tomorrow. (Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

As well as hoping this will be true, those of a Ukrainian persuasion will hope Shevchenko's words of "nervousness" tending to play a part in the first game are justified, but not for them. There's no pressure on the Ukraine, with their coach, Mykhailo Fomenko, highlighting just how strong an opponent Germany are in his pre-match press conference, perhaps taking the chance to remind the opposition that they have to fulfil expectations. 

Tymoshchuk also revealed that he has spoken to former Bayern teammates Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller in the build-up, who believe Germany will have "problems" against the Ukraine.

Speaking to UEFA about the clash with former teammates, Tymoshchuk described it as a game that will be "special" for him because of this, but "key" for Ukraine. He believes that "Germany are still in a search of their balanced performance" and that, while "they are very strong," they are not the "ideal" team just yet.

However, this Ukraine side are no stranger to the top level. As well as the majority of the current squad being regulars in European club competitions every year, with Konoplyanka picking up a UEFA Europa League winners' medal this season with Sevilla, captain Anatoliy Tymoshchuk also spent four years at Bayern Munich between 2009-13, with five of Löw's 23-man squad.

As for working together "collectively," the Ukraine should have few problems there. Seven of their 23 players play for the same Shakhtar Donetsk side, while a further five all ply their trade for Dynamo Kyiv

Yarmolenko (left) and Konoplyanka (right) are Ukraine's deadly duo. (Photo: A. Lukatsky)
Yarmolenko (left) and Konoplyanka (right) are Ukraine's deadly duo. (Photo: A. Lukatsky)

With players such as Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka down either flank - the latter one of just four players in the squad based outside of his homeland - they certainly are a threat going forward too, particularly on the counter given the pace of both 26-year-olds.

"We understand what we are up against," he said. "Maybe we are a bit weaker individually, so we have to be better collectively." The key to challenging Joachim Löw's side, meanwhile, will be building on factors of the game that have "always been typical" of the country's play style. Shevchenko highlights these as: "compactness, movement, tactical nous and fast attacks."

However, the Ukraine are not scared of their highly intimidating opponent, says Andriy Shevchenko. The former Chelsea striker, and now assistant coach to his country's national team, told UEFA that the team are ready and capable of giving Germany "a good game."

Unlike the two games before it though, this clash has a clear favourite and a clear underdog - which is inevitable with the World Champions in action.

This will be the second Group C game to be played, following the encounter between Poland and Northern Ireland at 17:00GMT. It will also be the third game on a Sunday packed with football, with Turkey to play Croatia at 14:00GMT in Group D's opener.

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK's live coverage of tonight's Euro 2016 Group C fixture between Germany and Ukraine. My name is Ameé Ruszkai and I will be taking you through proceedings as they unfold this evening, with kick off at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy scheduled for 20:00GMT.