Dimitri Payet’s splendid 89th-minute goal earned hosts France a 2-1 Group A victory against Romania in the opening game of UEFA EURO 2016.
Though France were arguably superior for much of the tournament curtain-raiser – Antoine Griezmann struck a post and Olivier Giroud twice headed wide when unmarked at close range in the first half – Romania had clear chances to open the scoring at the start of either half, uefa.com reports.
Both opportunities fell to Bogdan Stancu, who snuck in unnoticed at the back post after just four minutes to meet a flicked-on corner but could only bundle his shot against Hugo Lloris. The Romania No19 failed even to test the keeper three minutes into the second period after ghosting into space and controlling adeptly before scissor-kicking wide.
For him, though – much like for Giroud – it was to be third time lucky. France’s target man had put Didier Deschamps’ men in front when he finally headed one of Payet’s many pinpoint crosses on target. It was unfortunate for Romania keeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu, who had repelled everything thrown at him including a fierce Paul Pogba volley moments earlier.
Eight minutes later, however, his side were level, Stancu keeping his cool in front of the yellow mass of Romanian fans to convert from the spot after Patrice Evra had felled Nicolae Stanciu.
The match looked to be heading for a fifth draw in six competitive meetings between the teams before Payet bent in a delightful shot to sent the Stade de France into raptures.
Scorers: Olivier Giroud (57th minute) and Dimitri Payet (89th) for France, Bogdan Stancu (65th — penalty) for Romania.
France: 1. Hugo Lloris (captain) — 19. Bacary Sagna, 4. Adil Rami, 21. Laurent Koscielny, 3. Patrice Evra — 15. Paul Pogba (11. Anthony Martial, 77th minute), 5. N’Golo Kanté, 14. Blaise Matuidi — 7. Antoine Griezmann (20. Kingsley Coman, 66th minute), 9. Olivier Giroud, 8. Dimitri Payet (18. Moussa Sissoko, 90+2nd minute). Coach: Didier Deschamps.
Romania: 12. Ciprian Tătărușanu — 22. Cristian Săpunaru, 6. Vlad Chiricheș (captain), 21. Dragoș Grigore, 3. Răzvan Raț — 5. Ovidiu Hoban, 8. Mihai Pintilii — 20. Adrian Popa (11. Gabriel Torje, 82nd minute), 10. Nicolae Stanciu (7. Alexandru Chipciu, 72nd minute), 19. Bogdan Stancu — 14. Florin Andone (9. Denis Alibec, 61st minute). Coach: Anghel Iordănescu.
Coach Iordanescu: It’s painful to lose in the 88th minute
Romanian coach Anghel Iordanescu said after the match: “It is painful and sad to lose in the 88th minute, but it was a fabulous goal from a magnificent player. We played well but we had poorer moments. We started well, we had a huge opportunity with Stancu. Had he scored, the match would have been played differently. We also started well the second half, with another huge opportunity from Stancu. I congratulate the boys, they observed the tactical plan, they were determined, they were very close to a good result. They were all sad after the match. It is not going to be easy to recuperate them, especially their mental,” Iordanescu said Friday evening.