It was seventh time lucky on Saturday night in Kiev, as the Germany national team recorded their first UEFA Nations League victory. Joachim Löw’s side were 2-1 winners over Ukraine in front of 17,573 home fans at the Olympic Stadium in the capital, with Matthias Ginter and Leon Goretzka putting Die Mannschaft in control, before a Ruslan Malinovskyi penalty ensured the closing stages were tense. The win moves Germany up to second in the group with five points, behind leaders Spain (7 points). Ukraine are next with three points, ahead of Switzerland (1), who lost 1-0 in Spain on Saturday night.
Ukraine’s gameplan became clear in the early exchanges, with Andriy Shevchenko’s side looking to counter at lightning spend after winning the ball in midfield. Germany were careful working the ball around as a result and were patient when it came to creating changes.
The visitors tried to use the flanks with wing-backs Marcel Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann getting in advanced positions, but gaps in the Ukraine backline were few and far between. At the other end, a dangerous cross from Viktor Tsyhankov gave Manuel Neuer something to do for the first time, but it was as close as Ukraine came to his goal in the first 45.
Moments later, Germany suddenly found themselves in front thanks to good work from the centre-backs. Niklas Süle flicked a cross into the path of Antonio Rüdiger on the edge of the box, before the Chelsea defender quickly turned his man, surged to the byline and delivered a low cross that Matthias Ginter turned home after 20 minutes.
Germany’s passing still wasn't at its best, nevertheless, a chance for the second goal still came. Joshua Kimmich forced Bushchan into a save with a long-range effort just after the half mark, before Goretzka headed the resulting corner wide. Serge Gnabry came even closer to that allusive second goal moments later, directing Ginter’s cross towards goal, however, the home keeper denied the Bayern attacker with an impressive low stop to his left.
While Ukraine were now struggling to get into the game as Die Mannschaft continued to push for more goals just before the break. Toni Kroos missed the target from the edge of the box, while Goretzka’s failed header was the final notable moment of the first period.
Germany continued to control proceedings after the turnaround and the second goal did come soon into the second half. Lukas Klostermann’s cross was spilled by Bushchan and Leon Goretzka was on hand to head home from close range. Julian Draxler could have then made it 3-0. After a nice move and drop of the shoulder by the PSG player to put himself in one-on-one, the keeper made another fine save to make up for his earlier mistake.
Gnabry narrowly missed a Halstenberg cross in the 57th minute and Draxler set up Klostermann on the half-volley as more goalscoring opportunities arrived, but Bushchan - minus his blip for the second goal - was in fine form. The hosts came back into the game late on after Niklas Süle upended Roman Yaremchuk in the box. Malinowski beat Manuel Neuer from the spot to reduce the deficit with quarter of an hour to play, but Germany managed to remain on top and could have restored their two-goal lead again through Gnabry, who was denied by Ukraine's man between the sticks.