Euro 2016: France 2-1 Romania - 5 talking points
France needed a late winner from Dimitri Payet to see off Romania.
France kicked off their Euro 2016 campaign in dramatic style as Dimitri Payet’s sensational strike earned the hosts a hard-earned 2-1 victory over a stubborn Romania.
After a goalless but incident-filled first half, Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for Euro 2016 when he headed in from Payet’s cross after 57 minutes following an error by Romania keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu. Romania equalised courtesy of Bogdan Stancu from the penalty spot eight minutes later following Patrice Evra’s foul.
The game looked to be heading towards a draw, only for Payet to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the 89th minute and find the top corner with his weaker foot from around 25 yards out. His stunning drive sent the Stade de France into absolute delirium and ensured that the hosts – though not convincing – snatched all three points at the death.
We look at the talking points that shaped up a pretty even-stevens encounter at Saint-Denis:
1) Payet or Martial? – You have your answer
When the French starting line-up was released, many pundits were surprised at Didier Deschamps’ decision to start Dimitri Payet ahead of Anthony Martial to the left of Olivier Giroud upfront. With Martial’s fleet-footed skills likely to dominate the left wing, Deschamps was desperate for Payet to shine with his incisive passes and quality deliveries into the penalty area.
He shone, and with bright colours. Critics answered as far as Deschamps was concerned. The West Ham midfielder was at the centre of most of France’s attacking pursuits, getting into good positions and constantly taking control of the attacking third.
He finished the game with an assist for Giroud’s opener and a memorable winner with his weaker left-foot late in the encounter to enter in the running for ‘Goal of the Tournament’. It was a match-winning performance, the perfect display to get Euro 2016 up and running.