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Germany make strong start at Euro16

Associated Press Associated Press 12/06/2016 By Ciaran Fahey

Bastian Schweinsteiger marked his return from injury by sealing a 2-0 win for Germany over Ukraine in the world champions' opening game at Euro 2016.

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.

"A Bastian Schweinsteiger is worth his weight in gold," Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Sunday (Monday AEST).

He scored in the second minute of injury time when Mesut Ozil crossed for him to rifle in a volley on a counter-attack.

"My injury was healed, I feel very good. After the sprint forward, I was a bit out of breath," Schweinsteiger said.

"I've now played five minutes, I'm not yet so far that I can play for 90 or 120... I hope that I can now play a bit more."

Shkodran Mustafi's header put Germany on course in the 19th minute of the Group C encounter, when the Valencia defender beat his marker to meet man-of-the-match Toni Kroos' curling free kick from the right and head with power inside the left post.

Loew started with 10 of the players that won the World Cup in Brazil two years ago.

The 26-year-old left back Jonas Hector, playing in his first major tournament, was the only exception.

Despite dominating possession, Germany needed Manuel Neuer to make two big saves in the first half and another in the second.

Ukraine finished the first half strongly with Andriy Yarmolenko having a goal rightly ruled out for offside.

But Germany took control after the break, with Julian Draxler (twice), Kroos, Sami Khedira, Thomas Mueller, substitute Andre Schuerrle and then Ozil all going close.

Ukraine's Andriy Pyatov was the busier of the two goalkeepers, 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 equaliser late on when he headed the ball back without realising that Neuer was out of his goal.

Neuer said the best was yet to come from Germany.

"We'll have to raise ourselves in the tournament and hopefully already against Poland," said Neuer, referring to the team's game at Stade de France outside Paris on Thursday.

Ukraine will face Northern Ireland in Lyon on the same day.

"We understand, of course, that it is going to be very difficult," Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko said.

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