Ger­many kick off Euro ti­tle pur­suit with com­fort­able win over Ukraine

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

LILLE(FRANCE) —Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger had time for three touches of the ball and scored with one as world cham­pi­ons Ger­many started their Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship cam­paign with a 2-0 win over Ukraine.

The 31-year-old Manch­ester United mid­fielder came on in the 90th minute and quickly put away a per­fect pass from Mesut Ozil for the de­cid­ing goal.

With fan vi­o­lence again taint­ing the tour­na­ment, Ger­many’s win fol­lowed 1-0 vic­to­ries for Poland over North­ern Ire­land and Croa­tia over Turkey.

Sch­we­in­steiger is com­ing back from a three­month knee lig­a­ment lay­off and the the joy of his first in­ter­na­tional goal in five years ap­par­ently took a toll.

“I ran so hard in the cel­e­bra­tions that I’m a bit out of breath still.

“It was amaz­ing for that to hap­pen, it’s the kind of thing you can only wish for, but the most im­por­tant thing is the team wins,” he said of his quick­fire goal in the Group C match.

De­fender Shko­dran Mustafi headed the opener in the first half but goal­keeper Manuel Neus had to make sev­eral key saves and Jerome Boateng made a spec­tac­u­lar goalline clear­ance to block a sure equaliser.

Ger­many coach Joachim Loew hailed Boateng, who was the tar­get of right-wing Ger­man politi­cian Alexan­der Gauland this month. Gauland said Ger­mans would not want Boateng as their neigh­bour and that the na­tional team was no longer “Ger­man in the clas­si­cal sense.”

“It is good to have Jerome Boateng as your neigh­bour in the de­fence,” coun­tered Loew.

“He sees dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions, he re­acted and very clearly the ball was not be­hind the line.”

The evening was only blem­ished by fight­ing be­tween Ger­man and Ukraine sup­port­ers in Lille be­fore the game.

Ger­man po­lice said they ar­rested 21 known hooli­gans who tried to get across the bor­der.

An­other 50 lead­ing sus­pects took part in the skir­mishes which fol­lowed the ma­jor bat­tles be­tween Rus­sia and Eng­land fans in Mar­seille.

A fan gate­crashed Luka Mo­dric’s cel­e­bra­tions af­ter he scored Croa­tia’s Group D win­ner over Turkey with a bril­liant vol­ley. The Real Madrid play­maker per­formed an equally spec­tac­u­lar knee dive into the cor­ner of the Parc des Princes, where he was joined by team-mates but also a fan in a Croa­tia replica shirt and red and white painted head. Stew­ards led the man away af­ter the se­cu­rity breach.

“It could have been also a sup­porter from Turkey, but thank God it was our sup­porter! Af­ter scor­ing this kind of goal, I didn’t even no­tice,” Mo­dric said.

Croa­tia coach Ante Cacic said the goal had been “magical”.

It was Mo­dric’s 11th goal for his coun­try and they have never lost when he has scored.

“Luka re­ally de­serves to be talked about, es­pe­cially af­ter this match,” said Cacic.

“It was one of his best matches in Croa­tia’s his­tory. He was re­ally play­ing well. He was re­ally our leader.”

Poland striker Arka­diusz Mi­lik ri­fled home the only goal in his coun­try’s Group C win over North­ern Ire­land in Nice — his coun­try’s first ever at a Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

Poland had three draws and three losses over two ap­pear­ances in 2008 and 2012.

Coach Adam Nawalka is now look­ing for­ward to play­ing Ger­many at the Stade de France on June 16 with a spot in the last 16 likely to be at stake.

“We have been pre­par­ing for them for a long time, we pre­pare to win against Ge­many,” said Nawalka.

Poland’s man-of-the match, Gre­gorz Krychowiak, added to the air of con­fi­dence.

“The next games will show that we can be even bet­ter and go fur­ther,” he said.

“The play­ers here play at Euro­pean level for their clubs and are com­pet­ing for the high­est tar­gets. They have the ex­pe­ri­ence to take it for­ward at the Eu­ros.”

For Michael O’Neill’s North­ern Ire­land, it was a dis­ap­point­ing end to their first ever Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship match.

It was also 30-years to the day since their last game in a ma­jor tour­na­ment — a 3-0 de­feat by Brazil at the 1986 World Cup.—AFP

Shko­dran Mustafi cel­e­brates scor­ing the opener for Ger­many.

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