DONETSK, UKRAINE - JUNE 15: A general view during the UEFA EURO 2012 group D match between Ukraine and France at Donbass Arena on June 15, 2012 in Donetsk, Ukraine. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Ukraine Vs. France: Menez, Cabaye Score In 2-0 Win

A terrible thunderstorm delayed France and Ukraine, but they played an entertaining match that was worth the wait. Ukraine held their own, but France were too good in the end.

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Ukraine Vs. France, Euro 2012: Final Score, Les Bleus Brilliant In 2-0 Victory

Andriy Shevchenko looked up for the match and much younger than his 35 years again on Friday, but he couldn't find the back of the net and his defense wasn't nearly as sturdy. Meanwhile, France made tactical adjustments and looked like a much better team than they did in their game against England. Ukraine put up a good fight for 52 minutes and head into the final game of the group stage with a chance to advance, but they were outclassed in the second half as France won 2-0.

The match kicked off on time, but was suspended after just five minutes of play due to rain so heavy that the pitch became unplayable, as well as lightning in the area. The match resumed after a delay of around 45 minutes and burst to life quickly, with Karim Benzema forcing a save from Andriy Pyatov right away after the start of play.

Jeremy Menez, who came into the team for Florent Malouda, had a goal disallowed for offside in the 17th minute, but the move was a good indicator of what France were going to be capable of once Menez got on the same page with his teammates. Not long later, in the 29th minute, Menez forced Pyatov into a big save. Shevchenko had Ukraine's best chance of a scoreless first half, testing Hugo Lloris with a powerful drive from a narrow angle in the 34th minute.

The suspension of play and long delay was not kind to Andriy Voronin, who was ineffective in the first half. He was replaced at halftime by Marko Devic, who helped Ukraine to look a bit more lively in the second half's opening minutes. It was up and down with chances on both sides in the first few minutes of the half, with Menez testing Pyatov again in the 49th minute, which was quickly countered by a wonderful effort by Shevchenko one minute later. On a counter attack, he took the ball inside onto his right foot from the left flank and curled a spectacular shot towards the top corner at the near post from 25 yards, but his strike missed by less than a foot.

Ukraine would eventually be made to pay for their inability to capitalize on their decent chances, and the third time was a charm for Menez in the 53rd minute. Pyatov made two great saves on the Paris Saint-Germain man the first two times he was tested, but Menez netted France's opener with his third effort on goal. It came on the end of a beautiful move, with Franck Ribery finding Karim Benzema, who laid the ball off to Menez for the finish.

France would strike again and put the game away just three minutes later in equally impressive fashion. Benzema picked up the assist yet again, dropping deep into midfield to find the ball. As he came deep to receive a pass from Nasri, Yohan Cabaye made a run forward to fill the space that he vacated. Benzema brilliantly turned away from his defender and played a 20-yard pass into the feet of Cabaye, who controlled well and finished to put France ahead 2-0.

Benzema would eventually be substituted while France were comfortably in the lead, with Laurent Blanc opting to give Olivier Giroud some game time while Benzema got some rest. Benzema looked unhappy to come off without a goal for the second straight game, but he was integral in setting up both goals -- especially the second -- and put in a fantastic performance.

Ukraine weren't considerably worse than they were in their win against Sweden, but France were at their best on Friday, especially in the second half. The good news for the hosts is that they still enter the final game of the group stage in control of their own destiny. Six points will see them through to the knockout stages no matter what happens elsewhere.

For our previous coverage of the match, check out our Ukraine vs. France, Euro 2012 StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.

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Ukraine Vs. France, Euro 2012: France Grab Two Quick Goals

Jeremy Menez had several clear chances and scored an offside goal in the first half, but he's finally managed to break the deadlock in Donetsk. It was a brilliant goal too, with Karim Benzema laying the ball off to the Paris Saint-Germain man after an incisive pass from Franck Ribery. Menez cut inside to find his left foot and then blasted a shot beyond the reach of Andriy Pyatov.

Ukraine have come back from 1-0 before in this tournament, but France are taking steps to ensure that they won't be so lucky this time. The floodgates are opening, and Newcastle United midfield Yohan Cabaye has just made it 2-0 after a great pass from Benzema and a very composed finish despite heavy pressure from Oleg Gusyev.

It's all a little bit sad for Ukraine, who'd been looking very dangerous early in the second half. Andriy Shevchenko has come very close to scoring on more than one occasion, with the most recent a vicious effort that miss the top corner by about six inches, but now they've got a mountain to climb. If they do manage a comeback, though...

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Ukraine Vs. France, Euro 2012: Halftime Score 0-0 After Long Rain Delay

The rain rain rain came down down down

In rushing, rising riv'lets,

'Til the river crept out of it's bed

And crept right into Ukraine's!

Poor Ukraine, they were frightened,

With quite a rightful fright.

And so, in desperation

The players they took flight.

The big story in Donetsk right now is that the first half ended up suspended for almost an hour after lightning, thunder and a flooding pitch forced referee Björn Kuipers to temporarily abandon the game. If that hadn't happened, however, we'd be talking about what a good match this is. Ukraine have been far more impressive against France than England were, routinely putting them under major pressure, but that means a very open match with opportunities at both ends.

It's still scoreless, but that's only because both goalkeepers are on fire - Hugo Lloris has stopped a lovely half-volleyed effort from Andriy Shevchenko and Andriy Pyatov has managed to keep out tries from both Jeremy Menez and Phillippe Mexes. Neither keeper has been helped out by their defences, who are routinely making pretty poor msitakes, possibly thanks to the conditions.

France have looked more likely to score, of course - they are the better side after all - and they did manage to get the ball in the net via Menez's low shot, but he was several yards offside and barely bothered to celebrate before the referee waved it off. The longer this stays 0-0 the more likely Ukraine are to make one of their attacks count. They're generating chances and causing havoc, so you'd have to imagine that they're pretty happy with their performance so far. That's less true for Laurent Blanc's side, who probably should have scored by now.

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Ukraine Vs. France, Euro 2012: Game Back On After Rain Delay

We're back underway at the Donbass Arena, where the pitch has been stabbed to death by a legion of Ukrainians wielding forks, a vision that will haunt me until the end of my days. Thanks to an absolutely epic thunderstorm, play in Ukraine vs. France had been halted for almost an hour, but the lightning has died down, the field has been aerated enough to drain most of the standing water, and everyone's pretty sure that nobody is at immediate risk of death by playing football.

Karim Benzema decided to take advantage of the very wet conditions by launching a long-range shot at Andriy Pyatov. There was some thump on his effort, and Pyatov didn't catch it cleanly, but nothing particularly horrifying happened. The ball seems to be playing ok, nobody's falling over, and things seem to be back-ish to normal. The rain goods will not succeed in their nefarious plan to derail Euro 2012 and make the Ukrainians sad.

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Ukraine Vs. France, Euro 2012: Play Suspended Due To Weather

We had an inkling that this match might be in trouble when Ukraine's national anthem was greeted by a flash of lightning and a peal of thunder, but it wasn't entirely clear if that was the sky's salute to Andriy Shevchenko or something more... rainy.

And then it got really, really, really wet. Lightning knifed through the sky, water poured down - we're talking biblical rainfall here - and the players were looking like miserable, half-drowned rodents. Nobody could do anything with the ball, the play was sloppy and the conditions were looking frankly dangerous even without the terrifying prospect of a lightning strike. Thankfully, play has now been suspended, with referee Björn Kuipers making the wholly sensible decision to order the players off the pitch and start building an ark or something. Hopefully the Donbass Arena can float, because this storm is absolutely ridiculous.

Oh, and it's 0-0 still. We got about seven minutes of 'play'. It's unclear how quickly this will be over - hopefully the drainage system will be able to deal with this water, because the pitch is already starting to flood.

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Ukraine Vs. France, Euro 2012: Lineups

Ukraine, unsurprisingly, are unchanged from their first match, which saw them see off Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Sweden by a score of 2-1. They'll be hoping to do the same against much tougher opposition here, although they probably can't rely on a second-half comeback to secure the points.

France, meanwhile, have dropped English Premier League stars Florent Malouda and Patrice Evra, bringing in Gael Clichy and Jeremy Menez to replace them. They've also shifted from a 4-3-3 to a more attack-minded 4-2-3-1 with Samir Nasri, the best player in their opening match, playing behind Karim Benzema at number ten. Should be an interesting one - and I'm sure everyone's just dying to see what happens when you put Andriy Shevchenko against Adil Rami and Phillippe Mexes.

Ukraine starting lineup (4-1-3-2): Andriy Pyatov; Yevhen Selin, Yevhen Khacheridi, Taras Mykhalyk, Oleh Husyev; Anatoliy Tymoshchuk; Yevhen Konoplyanka, Serhiy Nazarenko, Andriy Yarmolenko; Andriy Voronin, Andriy Shevchenko.

France starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Hugo Lloris, Gael Clichy, Phillippe Mexes, Adil Rami, Mathieu Debuchy; Yohan Cabaye, Alou Diarra; Jeremy Menez, Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery; Karim Benzema.

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