Germany draws first play-off against Ukraine

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Germany begins the two-leg World Cup play-offs against Ukraine with an impressive draw in Kiev.

updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Germany began the two-leg World Cup play-off matches against Ukraine with an impressive draw in Kiev on Saturday night. The Germans are trying to make up for their traumatic World Cup qualifying campaign in which they missed out on automatic qualification after a 5-1 home defeat to England. The Germans began the evening in a nervous fashion and almost conceded a goal in the second minute. Andriy Vorobei sprinted clear after a defensive mistake but saw his shot cannon back off the post. But Germany's relief didn't last long. They fell behind in the 18th minute. Andriy Shevchenko's free kick was deflected into the path of Hennady Zubov and he fired a shot past Oliver Kahn. The visitors settled down and began to threaten at the other end and Thomas Linke added an effort against the crossbar. Germany drew level in the 31st minute when Michael Ballack stole in at the far post to beat Levitsky from close range. Minutes later Kahn made a vital save to deny Shevchenko after the AC Milan striker was put through on goal. Germany was the better team after the interval and had a number of chances to take a precious lead to Dortmund for the second leg on Wednesday.