The French ended a six-year drought for a win at a major tournament by beating Ukraine 2-0 Friday in match delayed for nearly an hour because of a huge downpour, thunder and lightning.
Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye scored early in the second half to help France’s to its first win in a major match since the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.
“I hope the next win won’t take another six years because I will be long fired by then,” France coach Laurent Blanc said. “We dominated the game right from the start in terms of shots on target and possession.”
Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt and red card in the 2006 World Cup final brought the curtain down on France’s golden generation — and the French then failed to win a match at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
“We scored twice and could have had more,” Blanc said. “We have a lot of potential.”
Friday’s match at the Donbass Arena had only been going for five minutes when, the atrocious conditions forced the players off the field until the rain let up.
“I congratulated my players and the Ukrainian players,” Blanc said. “It was a good match with both teams trying to attack.”
For the French fans, it was finally something to cheer about after being eliminated in the group stage at both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008.
“France is probably one of the favorites,” Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said through a translator. “Some players thought we were already in the quarterfinals. We will have a serious conversation with them. … It is not possible to win the first game and play the second like this.”
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