Impressive France trounce Ukraine

Impressive France trounce Ukraine

France delivered a statement of intent at Euro 2012 with a 2-0 win over Ukraine in a testing environment that showed Laurent Blanc's team should be considered serious contenders for the title.

After a 55-minute delay following a fierce thunderstorm five minutes into the game, both teams produced a pulsating first half on a slippery surface but second-half goals from Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye after the break underlined the difference in quality.

"The conditions were the same for both teams, maybe the French team got used to the wet quicker," said Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin.

"But the French are one of the best teams in world football and one of the favourites in this tournament," he added.

The win took France to four points, one ahead of the co-hosts who failed to find the form that brought a 2-1 win over Sweden.

The French had not won a tournament game since the semifinal of the 2006 World Cup but this was an impressive display, against a determined Ukraine backed by a loud and partisan home crowd which showed the quality now available to Blanc.

After their poor showings in Euro 2008 and at the 2010 World Cup, France are unbeaten in 23 games and it will take a very good team to stop them.

"We were on top for most of the game and I think we deserved our victory," said Blanc.

"We scored two goals, we could have scored a few more. We're improving. Can we go far (in the tournament)? I can't say. Every game is different," he said. The artful Karim Benzema created both goals, Franck Ribery delivered direct running and pace down the left and Menez fully justified Blanc's decision to include him in place of Florent Malouda with livewire movement.

For a while though it looked as though the game might not even take place due to the sudden downpour in the opening minutes which left the field covered in large puddles and the crowd scampering for shelter. Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers took the players off the field in the fifth minute after thunder, lightning and torrential rain descended on the Donbass Arena and it was almost an hour before play resumed, with the surface having dried out remarkably quickly.

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