DONETSK: Ukraine were placed under fierce pressure in ‘their own’ tournament after being outclassed 2-0 by France in Euro 2012 tie which was interrrupted for 55 minutes by a thunderstorm.
Referee Bjorn Kuipers had no alternatie but to signal the players off the pitcvh after only five minutes when a torrential downpour, illustrated by thunder and lightning, crashed over the Donbass Arena.
The Ukrainian ground staff achieved a minor miracle, once the storm had passed over, by mopping up to save the Europead federation from the enormous complexity which would have been inevitable had it been necessary to hold the game over.
A sharper second-half performance saw France cruise to a 2-0 victory over Ukraine in a rain-delayed encounter in Donetsk and take top spot in Euro 2012 Group D.
France were quicker into their stride on the restart and Ukraine found them too slippery to deal with. The co-hosts were fortunate not to be three goals down at half-time. Only keeper Andriy Pyatov kept them alive, twice denying Jeremy Menez.
Eight minutes into the second half, however, the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder broke the deadlock. Franck Ribery cut in from the left and Karim Benzema moved the ball on for Menez to dart in from the right and pull a left-foot shot beyond Pyatov’s reach at last.
Three minutes later, France doubled their lead. Once again Real Madrid striker Benzema played a key role. He found Yohan Cabaye in space and the Newcastle man shot low Pyatov’s left hand.
Ukraine are the only one of the two co-hosts to have lost a game. Poland, thus far, have drawn with Greece and Russia.
= = = =