But when the storm settled and the players returned to the pitch, the French provided a pair of quick lightning strikes of their own early in the second-half to claim a 2-0 victory and the top spot in the group table.
After a scoreless opening 45 minutes that included an hour-long interruption, the co-hosts threatened early and often in the second half. But after a pair of shots narrowly missed the target for Ukraine, France finally showed the offensive punch that made it a popular choice to advance deep into the tournament.
Jeremy Menez cut back to his left and ripped a strike low into the left corner in the 53rd minute for the first tally. Three minutes later, Yohan Cabaye doubled the advantage with another left-footed strike into the same corner, and Ukraine never found an answer.
Andriy Shevchenko’s double in Ukraine’s win over Sweden gave the co-hosts a leg up in Group D, and even after Friday’s defeat, they’re still very much in the hunt. But if England beats Sweden in the day’s second contest, Ukraine will need a result against the English its group finale to reach the quarterfinals.
Shevchenko brought the drenched, yellow-clad faithful to their feet with a nifty cut inside minutes before the Menez goal, but his right-footed blast just sailed past the top left corner. Anatoliy Tymoschuk botched another prime opportunity moments later and France came charging the other way on the counter attack to take the lead for good.
It was an encouraging effort from Les Blues who settled for a frustrating 1-1 draw with England despite dominating possession, chances and pace. Now a result against Ukraine will send them through to the quarterfinals.