IRELAND MAY BE heading home but there’s still plenty of football to be played. This evening we were back in Group D as tournament co-hosts Ukraine looked to make it two wins from two against France.
You may need to refresh the page for YouTube videos and other elements to display correctly.
Ukraine 0-2 France
16.48 – What? No, I wasn’t crying. Those, um, onions in the kitchen are just really strong. Or my hayfever’s acting up. Or something like that.
So it’s the morning after the night before. Trap and the lads won’t even need to unpack their suitcases when they head to Poznan to play Italy on Monday, they’ll be on the first flight home straight afterwards.
But in the meantime, there’s still a veritable feast of football to be enjoyed — and that starts now. We’re back in Group D and it’s tournament co-hosts Ukraine against France.
And… wait for it… it’s LIIIIIIVE!
16.54 – Kick-off in the Donbass Arena is in just over five minutes. Here are your teams:
Ukraine: Pyatov, Selin, Khacheridi, Mikhalki, Tymoshchuk, Gusev, Yarmolenko, Nazarenko, Konoplyanka, Shevchenko (c), Voronin.
France: Lloris (c), Debuchy, Rami, Mexes, Clichy, Cabaye, Ribery, Nasri, Menez, A. Diarra, Benzema.
16.57 – An Andriy Shevchenko montage with Take That backing music? Eh, don’t mind if I do.
YouTube Credit: stewenTV
17.00 – Mr UEFA man has handed me the team-sheets, so here’s how they’ll line out.
17.01 – KICK OFF: Ah, the countdown clock – what a glorious innovation. We’re up and running in a rainy Donetsk.
17.04 – I say a rainy Donetsk but there actually appears to be some sort of electrical thunderstorm currently hovering over the Donbass Arena. Not to worry.
Our referee tonight is a certain Mr Bjorn Kuipers. You may remember him from such awful refereeing decisions as “Jelavic v Ireland: Where no one can see you stray six yards offside.”
Enough about Ireland already, it’s only making me sad.
17.05 – MATCH SUSPENDED
Incredible scenes in Donetsk. There’s a huge amount of surface water on the pitch and, after a particularly nasty blast of lightning, our referee Mr Kuipers decides to take the players off the pitch for a short while.
More as we get it.
17.13 – There’s a little bit of confusion about what will happen if the game is in fact called off. This is direct from the UEFA rule book, courtesy of my colleague Gavan Reilly:
10.04: If the match is abandoned before the end of normal time or during any extra time because the field is not fit for play or for other reasons, it must be replayed in full either the next day or on another date as agreed by the host association and the visiting association, subject to the approval of the UEFA administration. An agreement must be reached within two hours of the referee’s decision to cancel the match. In case of dispute, the UEFA administration fixes the date and kick-off time of the match. Its decision is final.
17.16 – This may be my favourite liveblog comment ever:
17.18 – You think you’ve seen rain before? This. Is. Rain.
(Matthias Schrader/AP/Press Association Images)
17.20 – Still no further info from UEFA but we’re going nowhere, don’t worry. It’s raining.
17.30 – Here’s the video. It should give you some idea of why the game is stopped at present.
17.32 – Here’s the latest update on the weather from UEFA.com reporter Matt Spiro:
17.39 – If you’re not watching RTÉ, you’re missing an absolute doozy of an discussion between the lads on the panel who are tearing strips off each other as they discuss the fallout from Ireland’s catastrophic campaign.
I really wish I was liveblogging that instead.
17.46 – We’re just getting word from Donetsk that the match will resume at 6pm — that’s in 15 minutes. There looked to be a helluva lot of surface water on the pitch the last time the cameras cut to the stadium, so I’d imagine the lads with the sweeping brushes will have their work cut out for them.
17.55 – RTÉ have now cut to footage from Giovanni Trapattoni’s press conference today. Normally I’m quite good at working out what he’s saying but I can’t make head nor tail of this one. Sorry about that.
17.57 – This just in from RTÉ’s Ed Leahy. I’d be amazed if we restarted bang on 6pm but hopefully it won’t be too much longer after that.
18.00 – Lovely stuff, the teams are coming back out on to the pitch. Game on, Ger — but will they do the countdown clock again?
18.02 – KICK OFF (AGAIN!): Referee Bjorn Kuipers drops the ball and France hoof it back to Pyatov.
18.04 – Benzema has a half-chance but Pyatov pats his shot into the ground and saves at the second attempt.
18.08 – Nice piece of showboating by Khacheridi, the Ukranian centre half, who dispossesses Benzema and then pulls off a clever little turn to skip away into space. Not sure you’d get that from Richard Dunne though I did see Stephen Ward nutmeg Sergio Busquets last night.
18.11 – First meaningful attack from Ukraine as Husev gets to the byline. He has plenty of options in the box but can’t pick any out and Debuchy heads clear.
18.15 – France have the ball in the net but it’s ruled out for offside. Ribery and Benzema combine brilliantly in the build-up but when Ribery slips the ball beyond the Ukranian defence, Ménez is two or three yards offside. Decent finish, mind you.
18.20 – BREAKING: England’s game against Sweden has been put back by fifteen minutes to avoid any overlap between the matches. Kick-off in Kiev will now be at 8pm.
18.23 – But here in Donetsk, it’s been mostly France who are moving the ball around well in the slick conditions. As I type, Yarmolenko fizzes a shot just past Lloris’s left post from the edge of the box.
18.25 – Awful defending by Nazarenko who dispossessed Nasri and then decided to stand around for a cup of tea and biscuit. He’s blessed that it doesn’t end in a France goal because his pocket is picked all too easily by Ribery who squares to Ménez, but the winger is leaning back and can’t keep his shot down.
18.28 – Calamitous defending by Ukraine and I really don’t understand how Jeremy Ménez doesn’t have a hat-trick, never mind a single goal, already. Tymoshchuck lazily prods the ball in the direction of a team-mate and succeeds only in finding Ribery who races away down the line. Selin does a rather acrobatic fresh air in his attempt to clear the danger and when it falls to Ménez at the back post, he goes low rather than high and Pyatov saves with his legs. Straight at him.
18.31 – About 12 or 13 minutes left in this first half, so you can expect half-time at about 6.45pm.
18.34 – SHEVVV… no! Saved by Lloris. Selin finds Shevchenko with a raking ball out from right-full and he gets in behind Debuchy, taking the ball towards goal with a perfectly weighted header. He tries to beat Lloris at his near post with a firmly struck half-volley but the French skipper stays big to save.
18.36 – Little bit of confusion in the French defence as Clichy leaves a ball for Lloris but the keeper, thinking that his defender had passed it back, slices it into the stands under pressure.
18.38 – Stunning save by Pyatov. Nasri floats a free into the Ukranian area where it’s met firmly by the head of Philippe Mexes but the keeper springs across to palm it behind for a corner. This is turning into quite an enjoyable game — like most of the games at this tournament that didn’t involve Ireland.
18.42 – Great feet and strength by Benzema to carve out the opportunity for a cross but none of his team-mates had got themselves into position to attack what could’ve been a dangerous ball. I’m looking at you, Ménez.
18.43 – We’re into first half stoppage time. One minute to be played.
18.44 – HALF TIME: Ukraine 0-0 France
18.48 – Jeremy Ménez you lucky, lucky boy. The French winger is lucky not to walk for a second yellow card after he catches Selin and once the Ukrainian is back to his feet, Mr Kuipers blows for half-time.
France had the better of the chances in that first half but two great saves by Pyatov — from Ménez and Mexes — has kept the hosts level and their strong contingent of fans happy as we head into the break.
Back in five.
18.59 – SECOND HALF: We’re back underway. One change for Ukraine as Devic comes on for Voronin.
19.03 – Excellent chances at both ends as this second half gets off to a fiery start. I’m beginning to think that Ménez can’t buy a goal — he’s played in on the left of the area but again Pyatov saves with his legs at his near post.
As play moves down the other end, Shevchenko turns Rami inside out and then curls a beaut which just misses the outer edge of Lloris’s right post. That would’ve been something.
19.04 – Another chance for the hosts as Tymoshchuk goes walkabouts and finds himself much further forward than he has to this point. He nearly makes the most of it though but his shot is just over.
19.06 – GOAL! Ukraine 0-1 France (Ménez, 53′) Ah, it was only a matter of time before Ménez proved me wrong. The French forward line break at lightning pace and Ribery plays in Ménez who steps back inside Selin before finishing through the defender’s legs and into the bottom corner. About bloody time…
19.10 – GOAL! Ukraine 0-2 France (Cabaye, 56′) That, very possibly, is that. The Ukrainian defending is pretty poor but full credit to Karim Benzema who creates the opportunity, sliding a brilliant pass through four yellow jerseys to find Cabaye who drifted into space behind the left-full. Pyatov might be disappointed not to get a touch but it’s a good finish from the Newcastle United man who goes across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
19.15 – Another change for Ukraine as they pack their bags and set off in search of a way back into this game. Nazarenko goes off and is replaced by Milevskiy.
19.21 – Oof, that really should have been three for France and game over for Ukraine. The ball bobbles about the edge of the Ukrainian box and Yohan Cabaye steps into it, rattling an absolute thumper off the post and back out again. No chance for Pyatov who was rooted to the spot in admiration.
19.23 – A pair of changes. For France, Yann M’Vila comes on to replace Cabaye who looked to be carrying a bit of a knock. Ukraine throw Aliyev on for Yarmolenko, the young star widely expected to become Shevchenko’s successor in the national set-up.
19.25 – Devic sets off on a mazy run towards the French goal — and does quite well — but when it comes time to take his shot on, he panics and scuffs it well wide.
19.28 – Ribery zips a free-kick over the bar from the edge of the D, and that’s Jeremy Ménez’s cue to leave. He’s replaced by Martin.
19.31 – France make their final change as Giroud comes on to replace Benzema. He’ll be happy enough with his night’s work though he was given plenty of time and space to operate in by the Ukrainian defence.
19.32 – Most of the fizz is gone out of the game now as France continue to control the ball. Just over 10 minutes plus stoppage time to play.
19.35 – This could set us up for an interesting finale. Maybe. Just maybe. Mexes takes out Milevskiy on the edge of the box and receives a booking for his trouble.
19.36 – Aaaaand… Aliyev can’t hit the target. Ah well, guess we’re in for a pretty dull finale so.
19.38 – Yann M’Vila is only having a run-out on his return from injury so we’ll forgive him this latest aberration: a 25-yard strike that goes, um, about 25 yards over.
19.40 – Four minutes to play and I, for one, really want to go home. I can only imagine how the Ukrainians in the Donbass Arena feel. And they got soaked earlier.
19.42 – Nasri tries to catch Pyatov out with a free-kick at the near post but the keeper gets behind it.
19.44 – We’re into the first of three additional minutes. 180 long seconds.
19.47 – FULL TIME: Ukraine 0-2 France
19.52 – The jeers and whistles ring out around the Donbass Arena as Mr Kuipers brings this evening’s proceedings to a close. What a fickle bunch football fans are.
Franck Ribery takes home the man of the match award as France move to the top of Group D. It was all very comfortable for Laurent Blanc’s men tonight who looked threatening without ever really getting out of third gear. These dark horses, eh?
That’s all from me but if it’s more football you seek, Conor Nagle is your man for England v Sweden in Kiev. Go and say hello.
Thanks for your tweets and comments.