Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger was thrilled after scoring his first international goal since 2011 to lead his country to a 2-0 win over Ukraine in their Euro 2016 opener in Lille on Sunday.
Despite coming off the bench, Schweinsteiger had an impact almost immediately as he only needed two minutes to put his name on the scoresheet and double Germany’s lead.
There had been concerns about the 31-year-old heading into the tournament as he had just recovered from an injury, but Schweinsteiger made it clear that he was fully fit.
“Everything’s fine. My injury has healed, I feel good,” he told reporters. “It was a long way for a celebration, I am a little bit out of breath.
“It was incredible. You could have only wished for such a thing to happen.”
Germany coach Joachim Low heaped praise on the midfielder for scoring in stoppage time and giving his side some much-needed breathing space.
“I’m very happy for Bastian Schweinsteiger — after all the work he’s done in recent months, he scored the decisive goal,” Low said. “It will help him and the team a lot.”
Even though Germany held a one-goal lead for a majority of the game and ran the risk of Ukraine finding an equaliser, Low was satisfied with his team’s performance.
“We ran a lot in the first half but we seemed to have some problems in the transition, we lost a lot of balls,” Low said. “We improved that in the second half, passed the ball quickly and dominated the game. But it was not easy against a strong defence and dangerous counter-attacks. But we found a solution in the second half and that’s why I’m quite satisfied.
“I was not surprised by Ukraine, because I’ve seen them over the last two years. It’s a better squad than in 2012. They’re very strong physically and in the air, and very fast on the wings. They can be dangerous to any opposition.
“[Mats] Hummels and [Antonio] Rudiger were injured so we had to change our defence, but I thought they got stronger during the game, we were more compact and could press against the strikers.
“It was not too easy in the beginning but it got better throughout the game. It’s good to have Jerome Boateng as your neighbour in defence.”