Payet rescues France with Romanian rocket in Euro 2016 opener
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | June 10, 2016
France 2-1 Romania
- Early Lloris reaction stop from Stancu at set-piece denies Romania
- Griezmann hits post from tight angle for French, who spurned several openings
- Giroud flicks header past keeper from Payet centre for opener just before hour mark
- Stancu scores spot-kick equaliser when Evra felled near namesake Stanciu
- Payet produces perfect strike from edge of box to win it for France
Les Bleus snatch spoils in tournament curtain-raiser
Dimitri Payet’s late rifled winner spared the blushes of tournament hosts France against Romania, as the opening game of Euro 2016 came to life during the last 35 minutes in St-Denis.
Bogdan Stancu’s penalty had seemingly cancelled out an Olivier Giroud header, but the West Ham United maestro stepped up and got Les Bleus out of jail, after his teammates spurned several openings.
Didier Deschamps will know his team were lucky to take three points here, but probably deserved it on general play.
French grow into first-half
France captain Hugo Lloris had to make a fine reaction save at point-blank range inside four minutes from Stancu, who met Nicosur Stanciu’s flicked-on left-wing corner at the back post.
Unsettled by that direct Romanian threat, Les Bleus took time to find their rhythm and Giroud saw a near post free header from a stood-up Payet cross drop wide.
Antoine Griezmann spurned further French openings; first when two Romanian defenders failed to cut out Bacary Sagna’s right-wing centre, who was released from full back by a visionary Paul Pogba pass. The Atletico Madrid attacker nodded against the upright.
Payet later linked up with Griezmann, and he fired narrowly wide from 12 yards with 10 minutes to go before the break. Giroud also saw his unmarked header from a stoppage time corner sail over.
Giroud grabs opener, Stancu levels from spot
Stancu saw another opportunity to punish Les Bleus profligacy go begging after the break, after chesting down but volleying wide when found with a clean sight of Lloris’ goal from another Stanciu crossfield ball that took out the home defence.
Ciprian Tatarusanu then made two key saves down the other end, first a routine stop from Giroud and then plunging palms to thwart Pogba from range after a fine French team move, but the Romanian rearguard that had rode their luck was finally beaten before the hour.
VIDEO: France's goal by Giroud head. pic.twitter.com/JPI0Yr9Dw0
— KING ÖF LÖNDÖN (@goonerszone) June 10, 2016
Payet crossed from the right and Giroud got above the goalie to flick his header home to send the Stade de France into ferment. Les Bleus’ lead lasted just eight minutes, however.
Patrice Evra, France’s most experienced player, caught Stanciu late in the box and referee Viktor Kassai pointed to the spot. Stancu finally beat Lloris with his third effort to restore Romanian parity.
Payet puts name on back pages
Yep. It was the winning goal. So deserved for Payet. https://t.co/sD0xsW19LA
— UNILAD Football (@UNILADFooty) June 10, 2016
And so it remained level until two minutes from time when Payet unleashed a rocket of a shot from 20 yards that flew into the top corner, sparking wild celebrations among home fans.
France remain strong odds-on 1/6 favourites to win Group A, with neighbours Switzerland first in action against Albania on Saturday.
Les Bleus are also still rated 3/1 with Coral to win the Euros, but will have to conduct themselves in more convincing fashion than here to prove worthy of that price.