Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger was happy to see Jerome Boateng end his long wait for a goal in Sunday’s 3-0 Euro 2016 victory over Slovakia.
The Bayern Munich defender, making his 63rd appearance for the national team, opened the scoring with a brilliant volley to set the world champions on their way to an impressive last-16 win in Lille.
Mario Gomez and Julian Draxler added goals of their own to a fine team performance from Joachim Low’s side, though Boateng was given a standing ovation when replaced by Benedikt Howedes in the second half.
And Schweinsteiger was delighted to see the 27-year-old get on the scoresheet at last, saying: “I’m pleased. It took him long enough!”
Boateng, Toni Kroos and Manuel Neuer have been widely praised for their performances at the heart of a Germany side that is yet to concede a goal at the finals in France.
“It’s always important that you have players in the centre working well,” Schweinsteiger agreed. “That’s the case now, which is good. But it’s not only these three.”
Germany will now meet Spain or Italy in the quarter-finals, and Schweinsteiger is welcoming the prospect of facing another of the tournament favourites.
“We haven’t played the biggest teams in Ukraine, Northern Ireland and Slovakia. Poland are a good team, but you know what I mean,” he said.
“At the World Cup, we perhaps had more difficult matches. But I do think that you have to be at the very best to beat a team like Spain or Italy.”
The Manchester United midfielder, a second-half substitute on Sunday, now hopes to earn more playing time after recovering full fitness following a knee injury.
“Of course I could have played more against Northern Ireland or the other games, but it’s the decision of the coach,” added the 31-year-old. “I feel good, healthy and fit.
“You have to remember that I didn’t play for many weeks, my rhythm is not quite perfect.”
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