PARIS, June 11, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Dimitri Payet (L) ofFrancecelebrates after scoring during the Euro 2016 Group A soccer match between France and Romania in Paris, France, June 10, 2016. France won 2-1. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)
PARIS, June 10 (Xinhua) -- French winger Dimitri Payat scored a brilliant goal in the 89th minute to gift the hosts a 2-1 win over Romania in the UEFA EURO 2016 opener here on Friday night.
As all the French fans looked upset by a 1-1 tie, Payet, who plays for West Ham United, took a pass from N'Golo Kante, shifted the ball onto his left foot and unleashed a stunning long shot which found the top left corner to give France a last-gasp lead and the final win.
Payet, 29, deserved the Man of Match with one crucial goal and an assist. He said after the duel, "There is a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. The first game is always tricky, isn't it."
"We came against a team that defended very well and they always stopped us from scoring," he said, adding that the three points are very important.
It was really far from an easy match for France Friday night. In the first five minutes, Romania had four shots, including a goalmouth tap by winger Bogdan Stancu, 29, on a corner kick. But French goalie Hugo Lloris incredibly denied the shot on the goal line.
From then on, French stars found their pace, showing their advantages in skills and tactics, but had little luck in the first half. Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, 25, and Arsenal striker Oliver Giroud, 30, created and then squandered a number of scoring chances.
French coach Didier Deschamps said, "It is important for us to win the opener which is always tough. Romania's defense is tight. Payat is no doubt the decider of the game."
"Anyway, such an opening is not bad for us," Deschamps said.
The host broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when Payet delivered a cross from the right, which was met by Giroud who rose well to beat Romanian keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu in the air before nodding into the unguarded net.
It was the first goal of EURO 2016 and Giroud proved his efficiency with eight goals in eight games for France.
However, Stancu, who plays in the Turkish Super League, equalised eight minutes later from the spot, finding the bottom right corner and leaving Lloris rooted to the spot. That was Stancu's 10th goal for Romania and his first from the spot.
Romania central defender Vlad Chiriches got the first yellow card of the tournament in the 35th minute and his partner Razvan Rat took another on 46 minutes, which weakened the defense.
Romania coach Anghel Lordanescu said, "I think we played a good match. We started the first half in excellent fashion and we hit a very rare opportunity that the French goalie was able to keep out."
"If we scored first, it would have changed the whole match," he added.
Statistics showed that France scored twice from 14 attempts, five on target, and enjoyed 59 percent of ball possession. The biggest gap lied in the passes completed, with 417 against 186 in favor of France.
The two teams met each other 12 times before with France boasting five wins, five draws and two losses.
A total of 24 teams have been divided in six groups in EURO 2016. The top two of each group, together with four best third-placed sides, will advance to the knockout stage. France, Romania, Switzerland and Albania are in Group A.