LEIPZIG: Germany striker Timo Werner scored in each half to help steer his side from behind to a 3-1 home win over Ukraine in the Nations League on Saturday as they topped the group with one round of games left to play.
Werner scored twice after Leroy Sane had cancelled out a surprise 12th minute lead for the visitors, who had four players, including top striker Andriy Yarmolenko, ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the game.
The Germans, in the midst of an overhaul following their 2018 World Cup first round exit, are now top of Group A4 on nine points, one ahead of Spain who they visit on Tuesday. The top team qualify for the final four stage of the competition.
Ukraine, who hit the woodwork three times, are third on six points, with Switzerland bottom on three after a 1-1 draw with visitors Spain.
“We won a match against a good Ukrainian team and overall we can be satisfied,” coach Joachim Loew said. “We wanted also to warm up as a team (ahead of next year’s European Championship) and I think we did that to a certain extent.
“We had the game under control in the first half and we had a lot of pace. In the second half we were maybe not as focused.”
After getting the all-clear from Leipzig’s health authorities for the game to proceed, the Germans got off to a strong start but had to come from behind after Roman Yaremchuk scored against the run of play.
Leon Goretzka set up the next two goals, first launching a quick break and sending Sane through for the equaliser in the 23rd minute and then controlling a Robin Koch cross and lofting the ball for Werner to head the hosts in front 10 minutes later.
Germany, with their Bayern Munich contingent back in the squad after being rested in Wednesday 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in a friendly, still showed gaps in defence, having now managed just one clean sheet in their last seven matches.
They did not concede equalisers as in three of their previous five matches but were still lucky when Ukraine hit the post in the 53rd with Oleksandr Zinchenko’s deflected shot.
Werner fired home his second in the 64th before Ukraine hit the woodwork twice more through Marlos and substitute Junior Moraes in a strong finish.