Euro 2012: Gael in a storm
- 15 June 2012 20:55
- Posted by Chris Eccles
Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri contributed to a 2-0 win for France against host nation Ukraine in a game interrupted by an electrical storm.
Gael Clichy was making his first start of the tournament as a replacement for Manchester United's Patrice Evra. Samir Nasri maintained his place in the French side after scoring the equalising goal against England earlier in the week.
It was a welcome first win for France against the co-hosts with second half goals from Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye, but it was a game that was very nearly abandoned early on.
After only four minutes had been played, an electrical storm over the Donbass Arena in Donetsk brought thunder and lightning and produced a torrential downpour, leaving the referee with little option but to take the players off the pitch.
After a period of furious pitch forking and an easing of the rain, the game resumed after an hour.
The first half failed to live up to the initial excitement provided by the weather. France had the lion's share of possession, the best chances falling to Philippe Mexes and Karim Benzema who were unable to make them count.
Early in the second half, Ukraine delighted the partisan home crowd with two chances in quick succession. On 49 minutes, Shevchenko came close with a cracking curling shot from the edge of the box that almost found the top left corner. Minutes later, Tymoschuk found himself in a similar position only to fire over the bar.
This period of Ukraine attacking play allowed France to launch a classic counter attack through Ribery, and Menez made up for scuffing a first half chance by firing home.
On 56 minutes Newcastle's Cabaye doubled the lead after good work from Benzema.
Later in the game the players tired on a heavy pitch and the crowd were extremely vocal in their disapproval of the lack of opportunities for Ukraine.
The co-hosts will now be looking to bounce back against England whereas the French will now be confident of progression from the group with a final game against Sweden.
After being the star of the show for France against England earlier in the week, Samir Nasri played more of a supporting role in an excellent French attacking performance.
Nasri was instrumental in a sustained period of French pressure in the second half that resulted in a comfortable win for France
On his first start, the City full back had a quiet first half as the game struggled to get going and Ukraine offered little in attack.
As the French began to impose themselves in the second half Clichy contributed to an excellent collective performance combining well with Benzema a number of times.