KIEV — Germany scored once in either half to beat hosts Ukraine (2-1) in the Nations League on Saturday for their first win in four matches and their first ever victory in this competition.
Matthias Ginter put them ahead in the 20th minutes after good work from Antonio Ruediger, and Leon Goretzka pounced on a mistake by Ukraine keeper Georgiy Bushchan to head in their second goal four minutes after the restart.
Despite having the rested Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig players back in the line-up, the Germans, who did not win a game in the 2018/19 edition, were far from their best.
In a sloppy first half, they repeatedly lost possession, allowing Ukraine to quickly counter attack before Ginter’s goal settled their nerves.
Having conceded equalizers in each of their three previous matches, Germany were eager to add to their lead on Saturday and carved out several good chances.
But Bushchan had a good day making a string of saves before he let the ball slip out of his hands, allowing Goretzka to score in the 49th.
He then again was on hand to stop them scoring, superbly palming a Serge Gnabry shot wide.
A 77th minute penalty by Ruslan Malinovskyi woke up the 20,000 crowd allowed in the Ukrainian capital’s Olympic stadium but the Germans managed to protect their lead despite desperate late attacks from the hosts.
“Obviously, I am happy we won, but we could have been leading 3-0 or 4-0,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
“In some cases, we gave up the ball too easily. When we were 2-0 up they were tired and we should have played more counter attacks maybe. But overall, we were solid and did not allow them too many chances,” he said.
On Tuesday, Ukraine host Spain while the Germans, who had not won a single game in the inaugural 2018/19 competition, take on Switzerland. — Reuters