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Ukraine go down to superior France on rainy night

Last updated on: June 16, 2012 02:15 IST

Ukraine go down to superior France on rainy night

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Ukraine's Euro 2012 hopes were dampened by a 2-0 defeat by France in a Group D game that was suspended for 55 minutes because of a thunderstorm on Friday, causing England's match against Sweden to be delayed.

Superb goals from Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye in the second half made France look like real contenders for the title and lit up the Donbass Arena in Donetsk much like the lightning flashes had done at the start of the Group D match.


Image: Ukraine's Oleh Gusev is dejected at the end of their match against France
Photographs: Michael Buholzer / Reuters

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Refs stopped play after five minutes

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Thunder claps drowned out the anthems before the referee took the players off after five minutes of heavy rain and slippery play as fans in uncovered seats scampered up the stands.

The rain eased off to allow the game to resume at 0-0 after groundstaff worked wonders on the soaked pitch and despite the upheaval the two sides put on another thrilling show with chances at both ends.


Image: Fans shelter themselves with an umbrella as rain stops play
Photographs: Michael Buholzer / Reuters
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High tempo by both teams in the first half

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The win takes France to four points, one ahead of the co-hosts who failed to find the form that brought a 2-1 win over Sweden. England, who drew 1-1 with France in their opener, have one point ahead of their game with the Swedes later on Friday.

Despite the weather disruption, the match at the Donbass Arena started at a high-tempo as both teams attacked from the outset, with Ukraine urged on by a raucous, albeit drenched, home crowd.

Menez had an effort ruled out for a clear offside and then the pacy winger brought a brilliant save from Andriy Pyatov with a close-range strike from a low Franck Ribery cross.



Image: Ukraine's Andriy Yarmolenko (left) and France's Gael Clichy vie for possession
Photographs: Michael Buholzer / Reuters

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Menez puts France ahead

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At the other end, Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko brought Hugo Lloris into action when he raced on to a long ball and fired at the near post but the keeper got down well to save.

Pyatov made another brilliant save in the 39th minute to tip over a powerful header from Philippe Mexes, who met a Samir Nasri free kick.

Menez was a constant threat and it was no surprise when he put France ahead in the 53rd minute, finishing off a brilliant counter-attack. Ribery burst down the left and Karim Benzema fed Menez who cut onto his left foot and fired home.


Image: France's Jeremy Menez celebrates after scoring against Ukraine
Photographs: Michael Buholzer / Reuters

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Cabaye records first international goal

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Benzema was the creator again minutes later when he turned and ran at the Ukraine defence, slipping a smart pass to Cabaye, who held off his marker in the area and made no mistake as he scored his first goal for his country.

With France dominant, Cabaye then struck the post with a fierce drive from outside the area while Ukraine ran out of steam and ideas.

The victory was the first for France in a tournament since their semi-final win over Portugal at the 2006 World Cup and leaves Ukraine still without a win in Donetsk.

Image: France's Yohan Cabaye celebrates after against Ukraine
Photographs: Michael Buholzer / Reuters

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