Ménez strikes to rain on Ukraine's parade

Ukraine 0 France 2

Despite thunder, rain, a partisan crowd and Andrei Shevchenko, France recorded one of the most comfortable wins of Euro 2012 over Ukraine in Donetsk last night. A game that saw players running for cover when it was suspended after five minutes due to torrential rain, only for play to resume 55 minutes later, ended at walking pace as France outclassed the co-hosts.

After a low-key first half, which effectively served as a second warm-up after the delay, France did the necessary early in the second half. Two goals within three minutes for their very accomplished midfielders Jérémy Ménez and Yohan Cabaye proved more than enough.

Had France needed to score more goals they could have done but from there it was a case of simple control. On an afternoon which provided so many distractions, anticipated and not, it showed an impressive new professionalism: this was France's first tournament win since 2006.

When the players first emerged in the Donbass Arena it was raining heavily, and the French national anthem was interrupted by bursts of thunder. Referee Björn Kuipers began the game as normal but the torrential rain and potentially dangerous flashes of lightning forced him to bring the players off after just four and a half minutes of play.

With the players back in the dressing rooms, a cancellation by 24 hours appeared likely. But after talks between officials, the announcement came that the game would be resumed one hour after the initial kick-off.

Given the short start and the long delay, the match felt as if it was starting for the first time, but with the players less prepared than they normally would be. Both sides, then, failed to drum up much of a rhythm as they reacquainted themselves with the game.

But this was easier for France than their encounter with England on Monday, as they had space to attack. There were no rigid banks for four from the co-hosts, and soon enough lone striker Karim Benzema started to find openings. He tested Andrei Pyatov from distance before linking with Franck Ribéry in a move – later replicated for their opening goal – which concluded with Ménez's effort being disallowed for off-side.

Ménez, the Paris Saint-Germain winger brought in for Florent Malouda, was France's main goal threat throughout. Breaking from the right of Laurent Blanc's 4-2-3-1 system, he then shot over from Ribéry's pull-back before firing an even easier chance straight at Pyatov.

Although Ménez's opening goal did feel like it was just a matter of time, he was fortunate to still be on the pitch in the second half. Having been booked for pulling back Shevchenko, Ménez brought down Yevhen Selin in first-half stoppage time. Referee Kuipers, who must have already had enough drama for one day, just gave the Frenchman a warning.

It only took Ménez three minutes of the second half to threaten again – shooting again at Pyatov, this time from the inside-left channel. He might well have worried about his profligacy when Shevchenko and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk fired just over before he finally took the chance to put France ahead.

Ribéry stormed down the left wing, and found Benzema, who had dropped deep. The Real Madrid striker rolled a pass right to Ménez, who cut in on to his left foot and shot through Selin's legs and inside Pyatov's near post.

As is often the case, the eventual breaking of the dam prompted another rupture. Three minutes later Ménez passed to Benzema – again in the hole – who slid a perfect pass through to Cabaye on the edge of the box. Cabaye touched his way past Oleh Husyev and placed the ball into the bottom corner.

There were still 34 minutes left but the game was as good as won. The home crowd was silenced and without their support Ukraine faded. A smart passing move faced no resistance whatsoever, ending when Cabaye's perfectly-struck shot hit the post.

From there it was easy. Blanc brought Marvin Martin and Yann M'Vila on in midfield, replacing the two goalscorers, and they kept the ball with just as much comfort and accomplishment. Olivier Giroud came on for Benzema. Had he needed to score he might have done, but the job was already done.

Booked: Ukraine Selin. France Menez, Debuchy, Mexes.

Man of the match Ménez.

Match rating 6/10

Referee B Kuipers (Neth).

Attendance 51,504.

Arts and Entertainment
TV Review: Sabotage, a meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?