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Late flurry gives France victory in Ukraine

Ukraine 1-4 France
Marvin Martin's late double and a header from fellow debutant Younès Kaboul gave Les Bleus a somewhat flattering win in Donetsk.

Franck Ribéry congratulates Marvin Martin on his goalscoring debut for France against Ukraine
Franck Ribéry congratulates Marvin Martin on his goalscoring debut for France against Ukraine ©Getty Images

Marvin Martin scored twice late on and set up one for fellow debutant Younès Kaboul as France recovered from a goal down to defeat Ukraine.

Such a resounding result seemed unlikely when Oleh Blokhin's side, without the injured Andriy Shevchenko and several players preparing for the forthcoming UEFA European Under-21 Championship, forged ahead through Anatoliy Tymoshchuk's 30-metre effort eight minutes into the second half.

Though Kevin Gameiro quickly restored parity with a fine right-footed volley, it was not until the final three minutes that Les Bleus scored again, with Martin's double and a Kaboul header giving the scoreline a somewhat misleading appearance.

Loïc Rémy had the first notable effort when he fired wide early on after Mykola Ishchenko's error. Six minutes later France were unable to punish a wayward back pass from Olexandr Kucher, yet with Ukraine missing key centre-backs Dmytro Chygrynskiy and the Denmark-bound Yaroslav Rakitskiy, it seemed the UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts would find it hard to resist France's advances for much longer.

However, while Andriy Pyatov denied Gameiro on the cusp of half-time, five minutes after Oleh Gusev had flashed a shot narrowly wide, it was Ukraine who opened the scoring. Tymoshchuk, on target in a 2-0 win against Uzbekistan last Wednesday, unleashed a shot which deceived France No1 Steve Mandanda.

Yet Ukraine's advantage lasted only four minutes as Gameiro opened his international account in style. France's pressure increased with the introduction of, among others, Franck Ribéry, Florent Malouda and Karim Benzema, but it was Ukraine who almost regained the lead via a Tymoshchuk free-kick.

A draw seemed inevitable after Benzema squandered two chances, firing over the bar and then failing to beat Pyatov from close range, but the second goal France had been threatening arrived when FC Sochaux-Montbéliard midfielder Martin rifled in from long range with three minutes left. Kaboul swiftly headed in the third from a corner delivered by Martin, who rounded off the scoring in added time from a Benzema assist.