France cruises to big win at European Championships

DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukraine’s players were first drenched by a thunderstorm, then swamped by France’s clever passing football.

DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukraine’s players were first drenched by a thunderstorm, then swamped by France’s clever passing football.

The French ended a six-year drought for a win at a major tournament by beating Ukraine 2-0 Friday in a European Championship 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. Blanc hopes Friday’s win is a sign France can be a contender again.

“We scored twice and could have had more,” Blanc said. “We have a lot of potential.”

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.

After a 1-1 draw with England in its opening match, France has four points in Group D, the same as England and one more than Ukraine.

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