Euro2016 : Payet stunner gives hosts France opening win
Man of the Match Dimitri Payet struck a delightful late winner to cap a fine individual performance and hand victory to the hosts in the UEFA EURO 2016 opener
Dimitri Payet’s splendid 89th-minute goal earned hosts France a 2-1 Group A victory against Romania in the opening game of UEFA EURO 2016.
Though France were arguably superior for much of the tournament curtain-raiser – Antoine Griezmann struck a post and Olivier Giroud twice headed wide when unmarked at close range in the first half – Romania had clear chances to open the scoring at the start of either half.
Both opportunities fell to Bogdan Stancu, who snuck in unnoticed at the back post after just four minutes to meet a flicked-on corner but could only bundle his shot against Hugo Lloris. The Romania No19 failed even to test the keeper three minutes into the second period after ghosting into space and controlling adeptly before scissor-kicking wide.
For him, though – much like for Giroud – it was to be third time lucky. France’s target man had put Didier Deschamps’ men in front when he finally headed one of Payet’s many pinpoint crosses on target. It was unfortunate for Romania keeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu, who had repelled everything thrown at him including a fierce Paul Pogba volley moments earlier.
Eight minutes later, however, his side were level, Stancu keeping his cool in front of the yellow mass of Romanian fans to convert from the spot after Patrice Evra had felled Nicolae Stanciu.
We looked to be heading for a fifth draw in six competitive meetings between the teams before Payet bent in a delightful shot to sent the Stade de France into raptures.