Franck Ribéry and Nicolas Anelka struck second-half goals as France found a way through a resolute Ukraine to take command of UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group B.
Les Bleus created precious little in the opening period but a lightning break from Ribéry on 57 minutes and a fine solo effort by Anelka 19 minutes from time were enough for the win. The win takes Raymond Domenech's side top of the section, three points ahead of Ukraine, who drop to third, and two clear of second-placed Italy.
Anelka, starting alone in attack, had France's first attempt but the Bolton Wanderers FC striker sent an effort wide on 15 minutes. Ukraine may have been missing attacking trio Andriy Shevchenko, Serhiy Rebrov and Artem Milevskiy, yet they finished the first half in the ascendancy. Oleh Gusev ghosted past Eric Abidal on 44 minutes and crossed for Taras Mikhalik who skied his shot. Seconds later, Abidal made a last-ditch challenge to deny Gusev.
Having been a spectator for much of the opening period, Olexandr Shovkovskiy was quickly in the action after the break. The Ukraine goalkeeper saved Samir Nasri's free-kick on his line, before Anelka shot fractionally wide. With the Olympique de Marseille youngster Nasri growing more influential, Les Bleus found their rhythm and Shovkovskiy saved low from Anelka and Jérémy Toulalan before he was eventually beaten. Ribéry raced on to Claude Makelele's long pass and after his first touch had taken the ball past Shovkovskiy, he slotted into an empty net.
France scored again 14 minutes later, this time Anelka receiving a through-pass from Florent Malouda and lobbing the ball over Andriy Rusol before crashing a left-foot volley into the roof of the net. With victory assured the hosts eased off, though Ribéry was unfortunate to see his low drive slide just past the upright in added time. France can edge closer to qualification by beating Georgia in Auxerre on Wednesday, while Ukraine return to action against Georgia on 8 September.