France took a step towards the Euro 2012 quarterfinals Friday after goals from Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye gave them a 2-0 win over co-hosts Ukraine.
The match was suspended for almost an hour as torrential rain pelted Donetsk, but stubborn goalkeeping prevented a thrashing as France rained down shots on Andriy Pyatov’s goal.
Menez opened the scoring early in the second half with a powerful strike into the far corner from inside the penalty area.
Cabaye doubled France’s advantage three minutes later with a low shot into the far corner from Karim Benzema’s assist as the Ukrainian defence backed off.
The first three minutes of the game yielded little action before the storm stopped play.
After the match restarted, the first chance resulted in a disallowed goal when the referee ruled Menez had been offside as he moved to pick up Frank Ribery’s pass.
Ukraine responded on 25 minutes as Andrei Yarmolenko’s shot flew just wide of the left post.
A minute later Menez missed another chance, hitting the ball over the bar from the centre of the penalty area.
Ukraine’s defence gave way on 29 minutes, and the resulting French move left Menez one-on-one with Pyatov from Ribery’s pass, but the Paris Saint-Germain winger fired the ball into the goalkeeper’s body.
Andriy Shevchenko had his first chance on 33 minutes, but failed to score against Hugo Lloris after cutting inside from the left flank.
Six minutes later the French had their best chance of the first half, but Pyatov pulled off a good stop to deny Philippe Mexes a headed goal.
Three minutes into the second half, Pyatov stopped another shot from Menez after the Ukrainian defence’s offside trap failed to function.
Ukraine responded immediately, but Shevchenko fired over the bar.
Menez’s hard work finally paid off on 52 minutes, as his low shot beat Pyatov and found the net.
Cabaye heaped more woe on Ukraine just three minutes later, beating Pyatov in a one-on-one duel after a pass from Karim Benzema and hitting the far corner of the net.
Substitute Oleksandr Aliyev missed a good chance nine minutes from time as he failed to find the target after a dangerous free kick.
Ukraine: Andriy Pyatov, Taras Mykhalyk, Yevhen Selin, Yevhen Khacheridi, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Serhiy Nazarenko (Artem Milevskiy, 60), Oleh Gusev, Andriy Yarmolenko (Oleksandr Aliyev, 68), Yevhen Konoplyanka, Andriy Shevchenko, Andriy Voronin (Marko Devic, 45).
France: Hugo Lloris, Philippe Mexes, Gael Clichy, Adil Rami, Mathieu Debuchy, Alou Diarra, Franck Ribery, Yohan Cabaye (Yann M’Vila ,68), Karim Benzema (Olivier Giroud, 74), Jeremy Menez (Marvin Martin, 73), Samir Nasri.