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EURO2016: Nervy France leave it late to overpower Albania

France have again left it until the last minute to pull of a late escape at Euro2016.

Les Bleus scored twice at the death to secure a 2-0 victory over Albania at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille to follow-up their last-gasp 2-1 win over Romania on Friday.

Second-half substitute Antoine Griezmann, who along with Paul Pogba was left out of the starting line-up by Didier Deschamps, was the hero for the French when heading home in the 90th minute to finally break down a courageous Albanian side.

The lead was doubled in the sixth minute of injury time when Dimitri Payet, fresh off his heroics in Paris, scored his second goal of the tournament to send his country through to the knockout stage.

Albania were able to frustrate a disjointed France, early on, while going close on occasion but to no avail.

France were probing but there was no end product and there were few chances of note in the opening 45 minutes.

Gianni Di Biasi's Albania went just inches wide from opening the scoring early in the second half when a dangerous ball into the box was cut off by Bacary Sagna only to fall agonisingly close, finding its way onto the upright.

Moments later, half-time substitute Paul Pogba met Payet's ball at the back post but fired over the crossbar.

Olivier Giroud was later wasteful when missing the target with a header from a clever Kinglsey Coman cross before the Arsenal striker nodded Patrice Evra's ball onto the woodwork.

On 82 minutes, Payet delivered a luscious free-kick into the area which Laurent Koscielny failed to get anything on as Les Bleus chased the win.

It was frantic from the French as the seconds ticked on and eventually they found their way through with passion and desire to win it in the 90th minute.

The ball fell wide to centre-half Adil Rami who sent a lovely cross into the box for Griezmann to send home with a glancing header, sparking wild scenes in the stands.

And the home team were not done there with Pogba sending a 70-yard diagonal ball into the path of Andre-Pierre Gignac, who slipped and saw the ball spill to Payet, allowing the West Ham United star to cut back from the left and wrap a right-footed shot into the bottom right corner.

The result sees France return to the top of Group A with six points from two matches, two points clear of Switzerland, with Romania almost out of the running and Albania now playing for third position.


Euro2016 - Group A

France: 2 (Antoine Griezmann 90', Dimitri Payet 90+6')
Albania: 0
Stade Velodrome, Marseille - 63,670

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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