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FRANCE did not let an early thunderstorm affect them as a couple of second-half goals earned them a 2-0 win over Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk.
Laurent Blanc's side struck twice in three second-half minutes through Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye in a Group D match that was halted for 55 minutes by awful conditions overhead.
The players were taken off after five minutes as thunder, lightning and torrential rain descended on the stadium but when the game resumed the playing surface was remarkably good and Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov had to be on top form to keep out a series of French attempts on goal.
He was beaten in the 53rd minute, though, when Karim Benzema set up Menez after a quick counter-attack and again when Benzema again provided the killer ball for Cabaye to shoot home and reward France's dominance.
Cabaye also hit the post as the sweet-passing French silenced the sodden home crowd and the win took them to four points, one ahead of the co-hosts who failed to reproduce the form that brought them their opening 2-1 win over Sweden.
England, who drew 1-1 with France in their opener, have one point ahead of their game against Sweden 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, brought into the France team for Florent Malouda, 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.
At the other end, Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko, who scored twice in their opening win in Kiev, 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.
It was a pulsating first half and the high tempo resumed after the break with Menez again testing Pyatov at his near post in the 49th minute while seconds later Shevchenko cut in from the left and fired just wide of the top corner.
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.
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.Share
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