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EURO2016: Spectacular Payet strike sees France to victory

France have opened their Euro2016 campaign with a narrow 2-1 win over Romania in Paris.

Didier Deschamps' Les Bleus had some nervy moments throughout the 90 minutes at the Stade de France but came though their Group A opener with maximum points in hand by edging a plucky Romanian outfit.

Dimitri Payet produced a moment of magic in the 89th minute by scoring a goal worthy of winning any match to ensure the hosts got things off to a start with a pressure-relieving win.

The West Ham United star, on his 20th international appearance, fired home from distance with his left foot to send the French faithful into raptures as Les Bleus chase their third Euro title.

After a very lacklustre beginning, the opening goal came for the French just before the hour-mark when Payet produced an inviting clipped ball from the left side of the area, allowing Giroud to rise above his marker and head home for his 18th goal in what was his 50th international cap.

The goal was the Arsenal striker's eighth in his last six starts for his country.

Romania were soon back on level terms, however, after Patrice Evra inexplicably tripped Nicolae Stanciu in the area prompting Bogdan Stancu to step up and coolly convert into Hugo Lloris' bottom left corner from the penalty spot.

Just as it appeared it was heading for a disappointing draw, Man of the Match Payet took it upon himself to deliver a dramatic winner at the death with a thunderous strike from 20 yards.

The 29-year-old was soon thereafter replaced by Moussa Sissoko and left the pitch in tears, such was the emotion and magnitude of what he had achieved.

Romania can certainly hold their heads up after forcing France to fight until the final minutes and it could have been a different outcome had Stancu put away his back post effort in just the fourth minute, but instead fired straight at Hugo Lloris.

France came close in the 15th minute when Antoine Griezmann's initial effort from Bacary Sagna's cross fell for a second bite of the cherry but the Atletico Madrid forward could only fire his header onto the upright.

On 36 minutes, Payet got right in behind the Romanian defence from a throw-in and delivered a generous low cross for Griezmann whose first-time effort cannoned just inches wide.

Early in the second half, there was another great chance for Stancu, who latched onto a clever ball from Stanciu, controlled with his chest before firing wide while down the other end, Payet schemed his way through before setting up a volley for Paul Pogba but the well-struck effort was hit directly at a grateful Ciprian Tatarusanu.

The goals then flowed for the final 30 or so minutes as Deschamps rejoiced at Payet's winner which gives the home side every conceivable chance of moving through to the knockout phase with three points already in the bank.

France next take on Albania in Marseille on Wednesday as Anghel Iordanescu's Romania look to pick themselves up against Switzerland at Parc des Princes in Paris.

Euro2016 - Group A

France: 2 (Olivier Giroud 57', Dimitri Payet 89')
Romania: 1 (Bogdan Stancu (PEN) 65')
Stade de France, Paris - 80,000

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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