France coach Didier Deschamps hailed the impact of Dimitri Payet after the West Ham playmaker’s strike have France a 2-1 win over Romania in the opening game of Euro 2016.
Les Bleus were minutes from dropping two valuable points after Bogdan Stancu’s penalty cancelled out Olivier Giroud’s header, until Payet classily curled into the top-left corner from the edge of the area to send the hosts to the top of Group A. He might just be France’s new sporting hero.
Deschamps told Uefa.com: “It’s good to have won. Romania aren’t easy to play against – and we knew that. They give away a lot of fouls and defend well. We had chances but we gave them a few as well.
“We had a bit of trouble letting our hair down but we got our reward in the end. I made sure we played to win, with four attacking players on the pitch at the end. Given the context, an opening match is never easy.
“It was a tricky game, made complicated by Romania. The opening match of a tournament is a bit like playing a cup final, so perhaps we were a little timid. We ground out a victory, we put four attacking players on the pitch, and it was a wonderful goal from Dimitri Payet.
“Not everything was perfect, far from it. Romania showed they are well organised and they caused us a lot of problems, but it’s very important to start with a victory.
“Payet made the difference today. He’s an attacking player but he’s also someone who helps out the team. It’s quite easy in football when you can bang it in the top corner – it solves quite a lot of problems!”
Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu was impressed with his side despite the defeat and revealed the players were disappointed to have lost so late in the game.
He said: “We started the first half in excellent fashion and had a rare opportunity that the keeper was able to keep out. If we’d scored, that would have changed the whole match. At the start of the second period we got into their area a lot and unfortunately [Bogdan] Stancu missed another chance.
“I’d like to congratulate my players for having implemented all the tactical instructions I gave them. I thank them for the quality of their play despite the fact we lost. It really hurts to lose in the 89th minute but it was a fabulous strike from a wonderful player.
“If you’d been in the dressing room you’d have seen just how disappointed the players were. It will be difficult to rekindle the players’ form and fitness because they’re exhausted.”