LILLE, France (AP) — Bastian Schweinsteiger marked his return from injury by sealing Germany’s 2-0 win over Ukraine in in the world champions’ opening game at Euro 2016 on Sunday.
Schweinsteiger, who suffered his second serious knee injury of the year in training on March 22 and hadn’t played since, came on in the last minute. He scored in the second minute of injury time when Mesut Ozil crossed for him to rifle in a volley on a counterattack.
Shkodran Mustafi’s header put Germany on course in 19th minute of the Group C encounter, when the Valencia defender beat his marker to meet Toni Kroos’ curling free kick from the right and head with power inside the left post.
Despite dominating possession and creating the early chances, Germany needed Manuel Neuer to make two big saves in the first half and another in the second.
First he stopped Yevhen Konoplyanka, and then Yevhen Khacheridi from close range before Jerome Boateng cleared Konoplyanka’s effort off the line.
Ukraine finished the first half strongly with Andriy Yarmolenko having a goal rightly ruled out for offside.
Germany heeded the warning and re-took control after the break, with Julian Draxler (twice), Kroos, Sami Khedira, Thomas Mueller, substitute Andre Schuerrle and then Ozil all going close.
Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov was the busier of the two, though Neuer needed to be alert to stop Yaroslav Rakitskiy’s fierce free kick at his near post in the second half.
Mustafi almost gifted Ukraine an equalizer late on when he headed the ball back without realizing that Neuer was out of his goal.
But there was still time for Schweinsteiger to come on and complete a dream return after a season wracked by injury.
Coach Joachim Loew has now led Germany to opening game victories in five straight tournaments without conceding a goal.
Loew set a record for the most European Championship matches in charge, 12, overtaking compatriot Berti Vogts, who led Germany to the last of its three European Championship titles in 1996.
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