France downs Ukraine to end drought
Donetsk, Ukraine (Sports Network) - France weathered a lightning delay Friday to end an eight-match winless drought at major tournaments.
Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye scored 3 minutes apart early in the second half as France defeated Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine, 2-0, at Donbass Arena.
France last won at a major tournament in the 2006 World Cup semifinals against Portugal. It lost on penalties to Italy in the World Cup final and was winless in Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. France tied England to open Euro 2012.
The match was suspended after 4 minutes due to lightning and a scoreless first half was erased after the break as Menez scored in the 53rd and Cabaye notched his first international goal in the 56th.
France sits alone on four points atop Group D with England and Sweden still to play Friday. Ukraine is second on three points.
Ukraine failed to carry momentum from its 2-1 victory over Sweden in its first game into its second match against France.
Heavy rain and lightning forced a delay early in the match, and France was the best team after the 56-minute break.
Menez had a goal called back for offside in the 16th and, after a rare Ukraine chance from Andriy Yarmolenko, Menez fired over the bar in the 26th.
France was gifted its best chance off a bad back-pass from Anatoliy Tymoshchuk on the half-hour mark, but Menez was denied by Ukraine goalie Andriy Pyatov.
Andriy Shevchenko, who scored both goals against Sweden, created an opening in the 34th to force a save from France goalie Hugo Lloris, but France wrapped up the half with a header from Philippe Mexes that was saved by Pyatov.
Out of half, the teams exchanged chances with Menez forcing a save from Pyatov and Shevchenko curling a shot just wide of the top-left corner. Tymoshchuk had another quick chance for Ukraine, but fired high.
The French seized control of the match just minutes later as Karim Benzema put Menez into space, and Menez took one touch and sent a low shot into the right corner for his second international goal.
Cabaye doubled the lead 3 minutes later when he also took a pass from Benzema, opened just a little space and from 15 yards fired back to the far post to put the French in control.
France settled in with the cushion, and Cabaye just missed a brace when he hit the post in the 65th, as it remained undefeated against Ukraine all-time with four wins and three draws.
Ukraine ends group play against England on Tuesday, when France plays Sweden.