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Mexès marshals Les Bleus to routine win

Centre-back Philippe Mexès was the standout performer as France eased to a 2-0 victory against co-hosts Ukraine and moved on to four points in UEFA EURO 2012 Group D.

Philippe Mexès was France's top performer against Ukraine
Philippe Mexès was France's top performer against Ukraine ©Getty Images

Following an opening stalemate with England, France fans saw their team click into gear with a 2-0 defeat of co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk, keeping Oleh Blokhin's side at bay with a solid defensive display and putting their opponents to the sword when they swept forward. 

Integral to their resilient rearguard was AC Milan defender Philippe Mexès, and his part in France's performance was rewarded with a Castrol EDGE Index-leading score of 9.17 – the fourth-highest rating for a central defender in the tournament so far. 

Not only was Mexès impeccable at the back – strong in their air, regaining possession for his side, and sweeping up effectively – he also instigated many of France's counterattacks, completing 76% of his 49 passes as he efficiently built play from the back. 

Ever a threat at attacking set pieces, the powerful Mexès almost got on the scoresheet, too, with only a superb diving save from Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov preventing the defender's back-post header from giving France a half-time lead.

With a score of 9.02, Mexès's defensive partner Adil Rami was not far behind his team-mate at the top of the standings, while Newcastle United FC midfielder Yohan Cabaye put in a good attacking display, scoring once and striking the upright to round off the three frontrunners.

Castrol EDGE Index: Ukraine v France
1. Philippe Mexès (FRA) 9.17
2. Adil Rami (FRA) 9.02
3. Yohan Cabaye (FRA) 8.97
4. Alou Diarra (FRA) 8.82
5. Mathieu Debuchy (FRA) 8.70 

Key facts
– This was the first match at a EURO that France have won without Michel Platini or Zinédine Zidane in the team.

10 – France had 10 shots on target against Ukraine, their best total in a game under Laurent Blanc.

– Karim Benzema is the fourth player to get two assists in a UEFA EURO 2012 game, following in the footsteps of Andrey Arshavin (RUS), Bastian Schweinsteiger (GER), and David Silva (ESP).

2006 – This is the first time in ten games that France have scored more than once at a major tournament, since beating Spain 3-1 at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

7 – The result was never in doubt when France went 2-0 up. Les Bleus have now won seven of eight EURO games when they have held a two-goal lead, losing only to Yugoslavia, 5-4 back in 1960.

Player view
Philippe Mexès: "We shouldn't get too excited and must keep on working well. I'm not going to say I'm playing at my peak. It's just a reflection of the team, we're all doing well."

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