Football 1 year ago

Hosts France get Euro party started

  • Hosts France get Euro party started

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 10: Dimitri Payet of France celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group A match between France and Romania at Stade de France on June 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Hosts France have enjoyed an uplifting start to Euro 2016 as Dimitri Payet's superb last-gasp strike bailed out Les Bleus in a 2-1 victory over a stubborn Romania side at the Stade de France.

Didier Deschamps' team seemed to be heading for a gloomy draw but a moment of magic from West Ham United player Payet left the home fans celebrating a memorable win to get the finals off to a fine start.

There were no incidents reported in and around the stadium, where there was a heavy security presence, or at the fan zone, where 90,000 people watched the Group A game on giant screens near the Eiffel Tower.

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Payet wrapped up the three points following Olivier Giroud's headed opening goal for the hosts just before the hour that was cancelled out by Bogdan Stancu's penalty for Romania eight minutes later.

France had not played a competitive game in two years and Romania, who had only conceded twice in the qualifying campaign, were a stern reminder that Les Bleus need to be on their toes if they are to win a first title since their Euro 2000 triumph.

"Had we won by two or three goals that might have misled us slightly whereas the fact we won late in the day, that shows there are going to be no easy matches," man-of-the-match Payet said.

France, who now top the group ahead of Saturday's clash between Albania and Switzerland, got off to a nervous start.

Captain Hugo Lloris had to make a point-blank save early on and France failed to manage a shot on target in the first half.

After 57 minutes Giroud silenced his critics when he headed home from Payet's cross after Romania keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu completely missed the ball as he jumped with the France striker.

Eight minutes later, however, Stancu coolly converted a penalty after Patrice Evra's clumsy foul on Nicolae Stanciu.

However, the impressive Payet, who had been behind almost every France opportunity, was on hand to save the day.

Collecting the ball from N'Golo Kante, Payet cut inside and struck a vicious drive into the top corner, sending the crowd into raptures.

"It's quite easy in football when you can bang it into the top corner. It solves quite a lot of problems," said Deschamps.

"The opening match of a competition is bit like playing in a cup final so we were maybe just a little bit timid in the opening 25 minutes ... we put four attacking players on the pitch to try to grind out the victory."

France next take on Albania in Marseille on Wednesday after Romania play Switzerland in Paris.

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