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Group C Review

After severe rain forced a temporary suspension in Donetsk, French quality eventually shone through in a comfortable 2-0 win

The game began in extraordinary circumstances with torrential rain that was soon accompanied by thunder and lightning to such an extent that Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers had no choice but to take the teams off the field. Play was suspended for nearly an hour but when the players returned, the pitch was in remarkably good condition.

Upon the resumption however, the match took a while to establish any sort of rhythm and it was played in a lacklustre atmosphere. Gradually, Franck Ribery took charge of this Euro 2012 game and looked likely to provide France’s main threat down the left. Karim Benzema had two long range efforts on target but barely troubled Pyatov in the Ukraine goal.

France should have taken the lead before the break but Jeremy Menez wasted a few good chances up front. After 28 minutes Ribery had put the PSG forward clean through, Menez forced a decent save from Pyatov but in reality it should have been the opening goal.

At the other end, Ukraine were struggling to make an impact up front but Andriy Shevchenko had one clear chance on 35 minutes as he lost Rami and ran on to a through ball. With the angle narrowing however, he volleyed straight at LLoris in the French goal.

The scores were level at half time but the game was effectively over within 15 minutes of the restart. Menez had another opportunity that provided Pyatov with a more serious test but the misfiring forward finally found the net on 53 minutes. Receiving the ball on the right hand edge of the box he cut inside before firing low inside the keeper’s near post.

Just three minutes later, Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye doubled the lead taking a through ball from Benzema in his stride before slotting calmly home.

The crowd sensed that the game was over and while Ukraine were industrious, they had few chances to get back in the match. Substitute Oleksandr Aliyev had a dangerous free kick from a central position but blazed harmlessly over. Meanwhile, France threatened and Cabaye had a sweetly hit effort rebound back off the post before the final whistle blew.