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Friday, June 15, 2012
Ukraine vs France Report
Ukraine 0-2 France: Les Bleus strike twice after lightning storm delay
After a torrential downpour suspended play for nearly an hour,
Laurent Blanc's side notched two in four minutes to kill off the
co-hosts' hopes of two wins on the trot in Group D
France boosted their hopes of reaching the Euro 2012 quarter-finals with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Ukraine in a rain-delayed Group D fixture in Donetsk.
Having been forced to leave the pitch after
only four minutes due to a massive storm, play resumed nearly an hour
later, but it wasn’t until the second half that the killer blows were
dealt, with Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye scoring within four minutes of
each other to seal the points for Les Bleus.
Laurent Blanc made
two changes to the France side that drew with England on Monday,
dropping Patrice Evra in favour of Gael Clichy, while Menez replaced
Florent Malouda in midfield. Meanwhile, Ukraine remained unchanged from
their 2-1 win over Sweden, with Andriy Shevchenko’s brace against the
Scandinavians keeping him in the side.
Shortly before kick-off
the heavens opened, with several booming claps of thunder interrupting
the national anthems. The storm continued as the game started, and the
referee had no choice but to lead the players off the pitch with only
four minutes on the clock.
The match got back under way almost an
hour later, and France immediately took charge of the game, dominating
the early possession. Menez had a goal ruled out for offside, but
Blanc’s side continued to look far more threatening than the co-hosts.
Bleus spurned a superb chance just before the half-hour when Franck
Ribery’s ball across the box worked all the way through to the onrushing
Menez, and the Paris Saint-Germain winger forced a fine save from
Ukraine almost took a surprise lead just over 10
minutes before the break when Shevchenko latched on to a lofted through
ball and rifled a volley towards goal, but it was from a wide angle and
Hugo Lloris confidently parried away from his near post.
period of pressure from Ukraine, France moved up the other end and
Ribery won a free kick, which Philippe Mexes rose highest to meet in the
box, but his header was kept out by another excellent save from Pyatov.
Devic replaced the barely involved Andriy Voronin at the break, but it
was France who started the second half brightly. Menez tested Pyatov yet
again, striking low from the left and the Ukraine shot-stopper stood
Shevchenko then showed a superb moment of class at the
other end, collecting the ball and unleashing a long-range effort which
flew inches over the bar. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk had another effort moments
later, blasting over from the edge of the box as the game started to
And it wasn’t long before the deadlock was broken. On 52 minutes Karim Benzema found Menez
in the area, and the winger cut inside on to his left foot and slotted a
fine strike inside Pyatov’s near post to give Blanc’s side the lead.
France had their tails up, and Benzema looked lively. The Real Madrid striker played a delightful through-ball to Cabaye four minutes later, and the midfielder shrugged off a challenge before finishing low across goal to double the advantage.
a distinctly flat period in which France monopolised possession, the
ball fell again to Cabaye who rocketed a strike from outside the box,
and Pyatov could only watch as it rattled against his post and back out.
partisan crowd had little to cheer as the match entered the latter
stages, and even a free kick curled over by substitute Oleksandr Aliyev
failed to improve the dampened moods of the Ukraine supporters.
side held on for the win as the game petered out to its conclusion, and
have given themselves a solid platform for their final Group D fixture
when they take on Sweden in their bid to qualify for the quarter-finals.