Paris: Dimitri Payet’s stunning 25 metre strike a minute from time got hosts France off to a winning start at Euro 2016 on Friday as they beat Romania 2-1.
Payet was France’s standout performer all night. His cross also created the opener for Olivier Giroud before Bogdan Stancu’s penalty looked to have handed Romania a point.
However, the mercurial West Ham playmaker produced a moment of brilliance as he smashed the ball into the top corner to ensure France’s month-long festival of football got off to a flier.
“We had trouble getting out of the blocks,” French coach Didier Deschamps said. “But its good to get the first game out of the way and to win,” he added. Payet was in tears moments later when he rightly left the field to a standing ovation to be replaced by Moussa Sissoko in stoppage time.
An emotionally charged atmosphere at the Stade de France just seven months after suicide bombers tried to get inside during a France-Germany friendly on a night of widespread attacks across Paris that killed 130 people, was brought to fever pitch by an opening ceremony headlined by French DJ David Guetta before kick-off.
However, the hosts made a nervy start and Romania should have been ahead inside five minutes. A Romanian corner was flicked on by Florin Andone to the back post where Bogdan Stancu’s effort from point-blank range was brilliantly blocked by France captain Hugo Lloris.
Deschamps’s men settled as the first-half wore on and Giroud and Antoine Griezmann twice came close to opening the scoring.