EPL stars Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet shine for France on Day 1 of Euro 2016
Hosts France were clearly the favourites for the first game of EURO 2016 against Romania. The latter, a lesser known side had just come off a routing against Georgia in the warm-up matches and were high on confidence too but it was the Les Bleus who prevailed with perseverance.
Romania took the opening match to France from the very first minute as striker Stancu tapped a ball towards the goal after a mix-up by the French defence line. Sadly, French captain Lloris kicked it off the goal line in time to save the French an early setback in the opening minutes of the game. The game had just started and France were yet trying to get their foothold into the game; about 10 minutes later West Ham forward and French international Dimitri Payet crosses a ball from the left but Giroud heads it just wide off the post. France were now stepping up their game, the next few minutes were unsettling as Frenchman Griezmann’s header in the 13th minute hit the post after a cross from the right.
The Romanian team had been quietened with occasional fruitless runs from Stancu; but they were pressing the Frenchmen and that is what kept the latter on their feet. In the 26th minute Pogba shoots towards goal after a pass from Bacary Sagna on the right but the ball goes above the crossbar. Careless passing made the French lose the ball on many occasions in the middle which helped the Romanian’s push forward but only falter at the last moment in front of the goal. Giroud misses another header in the 41st minute after a brilliant ball from Payet.
The first half had many chances but none of the sides could break the deadlock. A few minutes later in the 47th minute, Stancu shows brilliant control of the ball on his chest before firing a shot towards the goal, only to go wide of the left post. Regular run-in’s from Griezmann and Payet towards goal kept the Romanian defence busy. There were also spurts of one-to-one between Payet and Giroud but they turned out without a result as the latter failed to convert it into a goal at the right moment. Payet fires another low cross in the just outside the box to Pogba whose shot is saved by the goalkeeper Tatarusanu.
The Romanian defence finally gave way in the 58th minute when a brilliant cross from Payet was headed into the goal by Giroud to open the French account in EURO 2016. A few minutes later in the 65th minute Patrice Evra made an unnecessary challenge in the box on Stanciu to gift the Romanian’s a penalty. Striker Stancu comfortably put the ball into the back of the net near the right post to bring Romania back into the game, after all they deserved it with their resolute gameplay.
Anthony Martial got an immediate chance as soon as he came on as substitute for Pogba who had been ineffective in the game, to be honest. Giroud passes the ball to Martial who shoots but is saved just in time by Romanian goalkeeper Tatarusanu.Romania and France both miss one goal opportunity each in the form of a set piece and a low pass from Sagna on the right.
It would have been unfair to Payet if France didn’t win the game, the 29-year-old had made most of the passes and the biggest difference in the game. In the 88th minute, the midfielder and gamemaker received a pass from Kante on the right before shooting a fabulous top-corner to give France the winner. Sissoko came on for Payet immediately after the goal but missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-1 in the 91st minute after a counter-attack after he shot the ball wide off the left post.
Regular interceptions from N’ Golo Kante coupled with brilliant footwork from Payet give France their first win in Euro 2016.
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