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Football
Thunder and lighting doesn't frighten France
Following a rain delay, France resume play on top with a convincing 2-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine at the Euros.
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2012 19:22
France's Jeremy Menez (R) got the ball rolling after the rain-break scoring opener [GETTY]


After nearly an hour-long rain delay, France sauntered to a 2-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine in their Group D match on Friday.  

While Ukraine were unchanged, France coach Laurent Blanc made two changes, dropping defender Patrice Evra and midfielder Florent Malouda for Gael Clichy and Jeremy Menez.

And Menez justified his selection in the 53rd minute when he gave France the lead, collecting a pass from Karim Benzema and striking past Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

Les Blues further silenced the Donbass arena when Yohan Cabaye took advantage of another great piece of play by Benzema and slotted away a second.

Even with Andriy Shevchenko on the pitch, Ukraine were unable to fightback in the same manner as they did against Sweden in their opener. On that occasion Shevchenko scored twice to give the co-hosts a rousing 2-1 victory.

However, France proved a much sterner opposition, with Cabaye almost scoring his second and France's third in the 65th minute slamming a shot against the outer edge of the post.

When Thunder strikes!

Lightning flashes lit up the Donbass Arena in Donetsk and enormous claps of thunder drowned out the anthems before the referee took the players off after five minutes of slippery play and fans in uncovered seats scampered up the stands.

But there were other fans in the stands - both French and Ukrainian - who took this as a cue to take off their clothes and dance in the rain. One French fan rolled around like a fish on the steps in the stand.

France looked to be the better team when play resumed about 55 minutes later, with keeper Pyatov saving a header from defender Philippe Mexes and shots from Benzema and winger Menez.

France's players enjoyed more possession and looked to cope better on the wet turf but didn't turn their advantage into goals until the second half.

Menez got his goal when he cut inside from the right and shot left-footed inside the near post. Then four minutes later Newcastle's Cabaye scored his first international goal when he ran on to Benzema's diagonal through-ball and shot into the far corner.

Ukraine tried to fightback but the slowing Shevchenko was unable to make any inroads and Oleksandr Aliyev wasted a free-kick late on when he lashed it over the bar.  

The result put France top of the Group with four points ahead of Ukraine on three. Both teams could still go through or go out depending on the result between England and Sweden.  

The later Group D match was delayed by 15 minutes due to the rain suspension in Donetsk.

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Source:
Agencies
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