Leon Goretzka and Matthias Ginter got the goals as Germany earned all three points with a 2-1 victory away to Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League on Saturday.
An early pattern emerged at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, with the hosts happy to sit back and allow Germany the ball before springing into life on the counter-attack whenever they won possession. There were some encouraging moves for Ukraine in the opening period, albeit without ever seriously threatening Manuel Neuer's goal but with Joachim Löw's side dominating it was only a matter of time before the first goal arrived. When it did, it was from an unlikely source, however, as Borussia Mönchengladbach defender Ginter prodded in at the back post following an excellent driving run from Antonio Rüdiger. Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry and Toni Kroos all went close to adding to the scoreline before the interval, but it remained 1-0 at the break.
That soon changed in the second half when Goretzka capitalised on a goalkeeping error from Heorhiy Bushchan, who fumbled Lukas Klostermann's cross from the right, giving the Bayern Munich midfielder a simple header from close range. Julian Draxler and Klostermann both had opportunities to put the outcome beyond all doubt after that, only to be denied by good saves from Bushchan. Ukraine, to their credit, stuck to their game plan and were handed a lifeline when Niklas Süle brought down Roman Yaremchuk inside the penalty area, allowing Ruslan Malinovskyi to pull a goal back from the spot, but they never looked like scoring another and Die Mannschaft held on to earn their first win of this Nations League campaign.
- Neuer made his 93rd cap. Only Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, with 99, has more to his name in the current squad.
- At the other end of the scale, Neuhaus, Jonas Hofmann and Mahmoud Dahoud were all handed debuts against Turkey, with Neuhaus scoring.
- Germany are 14th in the latest FIFA World rankings. Ukraine are 10 places back in 24th.
- Germany have never lost to Ukraine, winning four and drawing three in their seven meetings.
- Their previous meeting was in the group stage of UEFA Euro 2016, which Germany won 2-0. Neuer and Julian Draxler are the only two players who played that day who also featured here.
- Ukraine captain Yarmolenko scored six and assisted six more in 26 games for Borussia Dortmund before leaving for West Ham United in 2018.
Ukraine: Bushchan - Karavayev, Zabarnyi, Mykolenko, Sobol - Malinovskyi, Sydorchuk (Makarenko 84') - Kovalenko (Shaparenko 77'), Yarmolenko (c) (Marlos 69'), Yaremchuk - Tsyhankov (Zubkov 69')
Unused subs: Shevchenko, Riznyk, Plastun, Cheberko, Konoplia, Kharatin, Shepeliev, Mykhaylichenko
Out: Konoplyanka, Kravets, Marlos, Matviyenko, Moraes, Pyatov, Stepanenko, Zinchenko (all not included)
Coach: Andriy Shevchenko
Germany: Neuer (c) - Ginter, Süle, Rüdiger - Klostermann (Can 90'), Kimmich, Kroos, Halstenberg - Gnabry (Havertz 90+3'), Goretzka, Draxler (Werner 80')
Unused subs: Leno, Trapp, Koch, Tah, Brandt, Waldschmidt, Neuhaus, Hofmann, Gosens
Out: Amiri (not included), Dahoud (not included), Gündogan (not included), Hector (neck), Henrichs (not included), Kehrer (groin), Reus (not included), Sane (knee), Schulz (not included), Serdar (thigh), Stark (not included), ter Stegen (knee)
Coach: Joachim Löw
As it happened!
The referee blows his whistle and Germany take all three points! Deservedly so, too, having been the better team throughout. Löw's side move up to second place in Group A4, two points behind Spain, who beat Switzerland 1-0.
90+3' HAVERTZ ON
The Chelsea attacker takes Gnabry's place for the final minute of the game.
90+2' CAN APPEALS FOR A PENALTY
The BVB defender darts into the box and is sandwiched between two defenders. He goes to ground and appeals for a spot-kick, but the referee waves play on.
90' NEXT CHANGE FOR GERMANY
Klostermann goes off, Can comes on. There will be four minutes of added time.
84' FREE-KICK TO UKRAINE
Ginter is too late in a tackle and Ukraine have a free-kick about 25 yards out, over on the left. Malinovskyi takes it but it's way off target and sails into the stands behind the goal.
82' GNABRY SURELY... SHOT BLOCKED!
A lovely pass in between two defenders from Werner, straight into the path of Gnabry, slightly left of centre. He gets a good shot away, aiming for the far post, but Bushchan anticipates it and makes a good save.
80' FIRST SUB FOR GERMANY
Draxler goes off, Werner comes on.
77' GOAL! UKRAINE REDUCE THE DEFICIT
Neuer guesses the right way - low to his right - but Malinovskyi's spot-kick has too much power behind it for the goalkeeper to keep out.
Just before the penalty Ukraine make their final change, bringing on Shaparenko for Kovalenko.
75' PENALTY TO UKRAINE!
The hosts with a chance to get themselves back into the game as Süle mistimes a tackle on Yaremchuk. The referee points to the spot - no complaints from the Bayern defender, he knows he got that one wrong.
72' CHANCE FOR YAREMCHUK
Yaremchuk beats Süle to a ball slid in behind the Germany defence, but he doesn't fancy trying to dribble it past the Bayern man. Instead he tries an ambitious shot from 25 yards, but lashes it well wide of Neuer's goal.
69' DOUBLE CHANGE
The home side make their first two substitutions in this game, taking off Yarmolenko and Tsyhankov for Marlos and Zubkov.
66' ALMOST A SECOND FROM GINTER!
Is it a cross? Or a shot? Whatever it is, Ginter goes very close to getting his second of the game with a delivery from the right that almost dips over the head of Bushchan, who stays alert to tip the ball over.
65' NICE MOVE FROM GERMANY
Some quick passing along the edge of the Ukraine box looks promising for the away side. It comes to Klostermann, who tries to slide Gnabry in behind the defence, but he overhits his pass and the ball goes out for a goal kick.
61' UKRAINE'S BEST CHANCE
Klostermann gives possession away with a loose pass in the final third and the hosts spring into action straight away. Malinovskyi powers forward in midfield and slides a ball into the path of Tsyhankov, who cuts inside Süle and gets a shot away. It's with his weaker right foot, though, and Neuer makes a routine save.
57' KLOSTERMANN DENIED!
More good work from Draxler, who dribbles to the byline on the left before chipping the ball to the back post. Klostermann takes it on the volley and it's going in, but Bushchan makes a good save to tip it over.
56' GERMANY THREATEN
A quick counter from Germany as Draxler strides forward in a central position from midfield, biding his time before releasing Gnabry to his left. A quick step-over and Gnabry is at the byline, but there's nobody in the box to finish his teasing ball across goal.
54' DANGEROUS FREE-KICK FOR UKRAINE
Kroos brings down Malinovskyi just outside the Germany penalty area, giving away a free-kick. Malinovskyi steps up to take it himself, but his left-footed effort is straight at the wall.
51' DRAXLER SURELY... BUT NO!
Lovely interplay down the right from Germany, culminating in Gnabry cutting inside his marker and laying the ball back to Draxler. The former Schalke and Wolfsburg attacker is free in front of goal on the edge of the six-yard box, but shoots straight at Bushchan.
49' GOAL! GORETZKA DOUBLES THE LEAD!
Klostermann whips a cross in from the right that looks to be a simple catch for Bushchan, but he's nudged by one of his own defenders and spills the ball onto the head of the lurking Goretzka, who nods in from close range.
48' NEUER ALERT
Ginter gives the ball away with a loose pass intended for Kimmich and Ukraine immediately try to take advantage with a quick pass in behind the defence, but Neuer is quick off his line to snuff out the danger.
46' SECOND HALF!
Ukraine get the ball rolling again. No substitutions on either side at the break.
Germany go into the break with a slim lead and they deserve to be ahead, having dominated the match so far with 74 per cent possession. It's not all been perfect - as the high number of Ukraine interceptions (19) indicates - but the home team haven't really troubled Neuer and haven't looked like scoring. Another goal for Germany should just about put the game to bed.
43' JUST OVER FROM KROOS
Draxler charges forward from midfield and lays the ball off to Halstenberg on the left. He cuts back and plays it to Kroos, arriving on the edge of the area. It's a lovely hit from the Real Madrid midfielder, but his curling strike goes narrowly over.
39' UKRAINE PRESSING
The hosts' pressing tactics have forced Germany into a number of mistakes so far and they almost pay dividends as Malinovskyi nicks the ball off Kroos' toe. For a moment he looks to be through on goal, and a murmur grows in the crowd, but Neuer is so quick out of his box that the chance disappears almost as quickly as it arrived.
35' GNABRY DENIED!
One of Germany's best moves of the game as they string together several quick passes through the middle, and eventually Ginter curls in an inviting cross into the middle where the unmarked Gnabry heads goalwards from 12 yards out. It looks to be creeping just inside the post, but Bushchan dives to his left to make a fine save.
31' KIMMICH GOES CLOSE!
Draxler flicks the ball to Kimmich around 30 yards out. The Bayern midfielder smacks a superb effort at goal that Bushchan does well to tip over for a corner.
27' MISPLACED PASS
Gnabry gives the ball away in attack and Ukraine immediately try to get forward again. They can't be faulted for courage, but seem to run out of ideas when they get into the final thurd.
24' GNABRY TRIES ANOTHER BACK-HEEL
More patient build-up from Germany, who again work the ball wide to the right. Klostermann's first-time cross into the centre is just behind Gnabry, who still tries to back-heel it in. It's a nice effort, but he doesn't make a clean connection and Bushchan saves.
20' GOAL! GINTER OPENS THE SCORING!
Germany take the lead through an unlikely source as Rüdiger receives the ball on the edge of the area from Kimmich's pass. He does superbly to roll his marker, dart deeper in to the box and square the ball across the face of goal. Gnabry tries to back-heel it but doesn't make contact, allowing Ginter to prod in from close range at the back post.
17' HALF-CHANCE FOR UKRAINE
Tsyhankov runs into space behind Ginter to collect a lovely pass down the left wing. There's nobody in the box for him to aim for, so he tries to lift the ball over Neuer, who claws it away to safety.
13' GERMANY PROBING
Löw's side are still trying to stamp their authority on the game, working the ball wide to Klostermann on the right. He slips as he tries to make a first-time cross, and for a moment it looks like the ball will loop over Bushchan's head and into the net, but he scurries back and makes the save.
10' NEUER COOL AS ICE
Germany look to be growing in to the game and keep possession well in midfield before a loose pass allows Ukraine to pounce. The attack peters out on the edge of the Germany penalty area but instead of hoofing the ball clear, Kimmich and Süle try to pass their way out of trouble. The ball is rolled back to Neuer, who, under pressure, dinks a pass with the outside of his right boot out to Klostermann.
8' PROMISING FROM KLOSTERMANN
A lovely one-two in tight space between Goretzka and Klostermann on the right wing, eventually freeing the latter into space. He looks up and tries to find Gnabry in the middle, but his cross lacks accuracy and Ukraine can clear.
5' FIRST SHOT FROM GNABRY
It's Germany's first effort on goal, but Bushchan isn't too taxed in keeping out Gnabry's drive.
3' HOSTS CONFIDENT
Ukraine are not afraid to take the game to Germany and have got forward quickly twice now, albeit without ever seriously troubling the defence. They're sitting back in their own half, waiting for Germany to attack, and then springing into action whenever they win possession.
And we're up and running in Kiev as Germany get the ball rolling.
The players are out on the pitch as the pre-match formalities are carried out. Not much longer now.
This is the seventh meeting between the teams, with Germany winning three and drawing three. The most recent encounter was in the group stage of UEFA Euro 2016, which Germany won 2-0.
They also faced off in the World Cup qualifying play-offs in 2001, with Germany going through 5-2 on aggregate over the two legs. Before then, Germany won 2-0 at home in European zone World Cup qualifying in 1997 before drawing 0-0 away.
The other match was a 3-3 friendly draw in 2011. Kroos is the only member of that squad in the current roster too.
HOW WILL GERMANY PLAY?
Löw looks to be fielding a 3-4-3 formation with three-man backline - as he did against Turkey and in other recent matches - with Leipzig duo Klostermann and Halstenberg expected to drop back when Ukraine have the ball, while providing width when Die Mannschaft get forward.
Kimmich and Kroos will continue their fearsome partnership in central midfield, leaving attacking responsibility to Gnabry, Goretzka and Draxler, who are likely to switch positions across the frontline at will throughout the game.
Germany may be the favourites on paper, but the hosts will not roll over without a fight. They are unbeaten in ten games on home turf under Shevchenko, winning all three on their own patch in the Nations League.
Local health authorities have permitted the Olympic Stadium in Kiev to be filled to 30 per cent of capacity for the game, meaning approximately 20,000 spectators are expected in the stands.
"I think it's nice for everyone when fans are there and when there's a bit of an atmosphere," said Löw at his pre-match press conference. "It's something we can look forward to."
Germany are currently third in the Nations League group A4 standings, having drawn 1-1 with both Spain and Switzerland last month. The Spaniards currently top the pile with four points from two games, while Ukraine are in second having won one and lost one so far.
Victory today, coupled with another three points against Switzerland in Cologne on Tuesday, would change the panorama considerably.
Löw has made a whopping nine changes to the team that started the 3-3 draw with Turkey a few days ago, with Antonio Rüdiger and Julian Draxler the only players to retain their places.
The Bayern and RB Leipzig contingents - comprising Neuer, Süle, Klostermann, Kimmich, Halstenberg, Gnabry and Goretzka - all return to the team after being rested against Turkey.
HELLO AND WELCOME
Thanks for joining us for build-up and live coverage of Germany's Nations League clash away to Ukraine in Kiew. Can Joachim Löw's men pick up their first win of the campaign? We'll find out very shortly.