Euro 2012: France ease past Ukraine 2-0
France dashed Ukraine's hopes of a surprise second straight win in Group D as they beat the tournament co-hosts 2-0 in rain-soaked Donetsk.
France dashed Ukraine's hopes of a surprise second straight win in Group D as they beat the tournament co-hosts 2-0 in rain-soaked Donetsk. (All AFP and AP Images)
Oleg Blokhin's side, surprise winners against Sweden in their opening match, started briskly against the French, who were looking for a vital three points after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with England in their first match.
Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers ordered both teams off after just five minutes, as violent thunder and electric storms lashed Shakhtar Donetsk's Donbass Arena, flooding parts of the playing surface.
After nearly an hour of suspension and some emergency groundwork, play finally resumed.
Ukraine had as many as nine attempts in the match but only two were on goal.
Among his many saves, Ukraine custodian Andrei Pyatov produced a stunning one-handed save to claw away a Phillipe Mexes header that appeared destined for the top-right corner.
The arena shook with noise each time the ball came to Andrei Shevchenko, hero of the win against Sweden.
Jeremy Menez, selected ahead of Florent Malouda, put the French 1-0 up on 53 minutes, silencing the home fans.
Menez's left-foot drive was followed three minutes later by Yohan Cabaye's first goal for the national team.
"Tonight I really enjoyed watching France play," said France coach Laurent Blanc after the match.
The only concern for Blanc may be leading striker Karim Benzema who looked to have suffered an injury during the second-half and was eventually replaced by Olivier Giroud.