Euro 2016 round up: France 2 Romania 1 - and what the result means

Romanian midfielder Mihai Pintilii (left) vying for the ball with French midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
Romanian midfielder Mihai Pintilii (left) vying for the ball with French midfielder Blaise Matuidi.PHOTO: AFP

The Euro 2016 party has officially started. Nothing gets festivities going quite like a win for the hosts, and France delivered in the tournament opener.

Les Bleus came into the Group A fixture feeling the weight of an expectant nation. Romania arrived in Paris with the best defence in Euro qualifying, but the visitors conceded as many goals against France as they did in 10 qualifiers.

France just about showed why they are the favourites despite their vulnerable defence. Their game plan is simply to score more than they let in. And they were able to do so on Saturday thanks to Dimitri Payet, who set up Olivier Giroud's opener before scoring a scorching 89th-minute winner.

Match highlights

- Romania had a chance to take a fourth-minute lead. France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saved forward Bogdan Stancu's shot from four yards out after a corner was flicked on at the near-post.

 

- Romania's defence fail to clear Bacary Sagna's cross in the 15h minute. The ball found its way to France forward Antoine Griezmann and his header hit the post.

-  France's rejigged back four - without Raphael Varane, Mamadou Sakho and Jeremy Mathieu for the continental showpiece - failed to emerge for the second half. Stancu had plenty of time and space in the box but he scuffed his 48th-minute shot wide.

- France striker Olivier Giroud finally got his goal. After missing a couple of free headers, the Arsenal man nodded home Payet's cross in the 57th minute. Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu claimed he was fouled but he was well beaten.

- Romania midfielder Nicolae Stanciu is clipped in the box by full-back Patrice Evra. Stancu took the resulting penalty, his shot to Lloris' left giving the Tottenham stopper no chance.

- With a minute of normal time remaining, Payet picked the ball up from 30 yards out, and let fly. His curler found the top corner.

The talking point

Should Romania have gotten a penalty in the 38th minute? Florin Andone got past Laurent Koschielny and Adil Rami before Koschielny kicked the Romania striker in the knee. The Arsenal centre-back got none of the ball as the referee waved play on.

Man of the Match

The Stade de France was the stage and Payet was the leading man. Chosen to start ahead of Anthony Martial, the West Ham playmaker's performance should ensure that he is one of the first names of Didier Deschamps' team sheet against Albania on Wednesday. Given the freedom to roam, he was everywhere, creating chances from the left, right and centrally. He made eight chances - twice as many as the rest of his team-mates combined. A stepover and no-look pass to Evra might well have been worth the entrance fee. But his finest act was the winner - on his weaker left foot.

What the result means

The omens look good for France. Ten of the 14 past European Championship winners won their opening match. Deschamps' men will now hope to kick on against Albania. But they will have to improve their defence, which looked shaky throughout the match. Romania were arguably unlucky to lose, and can at least be consoled by the new tournament format. Four of the best third-placed sides from the six groups will progress alongside the top two teams so all is not lost. Romania will look to get points on the board when they take on Switzerland on Wednesday.

Key statistic

Payet is the first Frenchman to score and assist at the European Championship since Thierry Henry in 2000.

What they said

Payet: "If someone had told me it would go like this tonight I wouldn't have believed them."

Deschamps: "Dimitri can make the difference. When you bang it into the top corner, it solves a lot of problems."