In the other Group D tonight in Donetsk, France rather easily beat the Ukraine 2-0, after it had been 0-0 at the half.
French players celebrate after great Yohan Cabaye strike
And that was France’s first win in six years in major tournaments, as they had not won in the South Africa World Cup in the summer of 2010, or the previous European Championships held in Switzerland and Austria in 2008.
And it was Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye who put in a very good performance for France tonight, as he basically ran the midfield for the French, just as he does for Newcastle.
Yohan also scored France’s seocnd goal, and that was his first International goal, and then a little later he hit the post before being replaced in the second half.
The game was delayed for about an hour after only four minutes had been played, as the referee deemed the lightning storm to be dangerous, and the rain was coming down in sheets.
The ground crew cleared the lying water off the pitch after the rain had stopped, and when the game restarted, the pitch was in remarkably good condition.
France got both their goals minutes apart early in the second half, and that gave them the confidence to play well, and they took the opportunity to give some playing time to Marvin Martin of Sochaux, Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud, and Yann M’Vila, who has recovered from the injury he picked up before the tournament.
Menez had been preferred to Florent Malouda on the wing, and Man City left-back Gaël Clichy had come in for Man United full-back Patrice Evra.
Introducing Jeremy Menez into the starting line-up seemed to pay off, as the 25 year-old PSG winger scored a good first goal for France after 51 minutes, and Yohan Cabaye scored his first International goal three minutes later, as he was unmarked in the penalty area and efficiently put the ball into the back of the net.
Real Madrid striker Benzema celebrates with goalscorer Menez
ASfter the game France manager Laurent Blanc had this to say:
“I didn’t want to play the game at any price.” “I would have preferred to come back and play tomorrow. But in the end it was okay.”
“The French public know we haven’t won in a tournament for a while so we want to savor this.”
“Six years is quite a long time to win a tournament game so I hope the next victory won’t be another six years because I won’t be around to talk to you as I’d have long been fired.”
Laurent Blanc as ever the realist – isn’t he?
France played well tonight, but for once, Newcastle winger Ben Arfa didn’t get any playing time, as Blanc gave other players a run-out once it had gone to 2-0.
With the results in Group D tonight, both France and England only need a draw in their final group game on Tuesday to qualify for the quarter finals.
France lead the group on 4 points, and have a better goal difference than England, who also have 4 points, and the Ukraine are on 3 points, but Sweden are the second country with Ireland to be eliminated, with zero points from their two games played.