EURO202 – Group D: France overcome downpour to cruise past Ukraine

France have opened their account at Euro2012 with a 2-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk.

The match was suspended for around an hour after a violent storm swept across the area just five minutes in to the contest, forcing the players and match officials off the pitch, and when it did finally re-start there was little to cheer about for either side.

Both the French and the Ukrainian sides didn’t give much in the first half but Laurent Blanc’s Les Bleus picked up the slack in the second term to score twice in three minutes, recording their first win of the tournament.

After a fairly poor first half, the second 45 minutes started in lively fashion and it was to the benefit of France as Jeremy Menez gave his side the lead in the 53rd minute. Karim Benzema received the ball from Franck Ribery before laying off to Menez on the right side of the area for the PSG man to cut back past Yevgen Selin and onto his left to keep his shot low past Andriy Pyatov at the near post.

France had really kicked into gear and three minutes later had a second when Benzema slipped a clever ball into the path of Yohan Cabaye who had some luck with his first touch in the area before slotting it past Pyatov for his first international goal.

Cabaye almost added a second on the 65th minute after France knocked the ball around at will but the Newcastle United man fired onto the post with Pyatov well beaten.

The French side were well on top after they went two up and were basically awaiting a challenge for the Ukrainians, which in the end, did not really come as the limped through proceedings with just one attempt on target which came when Andriy Shevchenko tested Hugo Lloris from an angle in the 35th minute.

The French had some decent chances throughout but Pyatov was in good touch to deny Philippe Mexes’ 39th minute header from a free-kick and then thwart Menez early in the second half.

Minutes before the opening goal, Shevchenko wasn’t far off when he hammered his attempt from range just over the crossbar which would have hade Lloris beaten but apart from that, the France skipper wasn’t really tested as the 2000 European champions went to the top of Group D with England still to play Sweden in the second round of group stage matches.

Euro2012 – Group D

Ukraine: 0
France: 2 (Jeremy Menez 53’, Yohan Cabaye 56’)

Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Yellow cards: UKR - Yevgen Selin 55’, Anatoliy Tymoschuk 87’
FRA - Jeremy Menez 40’, Mathieu Debuchy 79’, Philippe Mexes 81’

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