Hosts France enjoyed a stunning start to Euro 2016 as Dimitri Payet’s superb last-gasp strike bailed out Les Bleus in a 2-1 victory over Romania at the Stade de France on a peaceful night in the capital on Friday.
The least to be said is that Payet was France’s standout performer during the whole match.
Starting the month-long tournament among protests against a labor law and terror fears seven months after terrorist attacks on Paris killed 130, the national team lightened the whole surrounding.
West Ham United player Payet brought an unforgettable moment to fans celebrating a with this fine start, though Didier Deschamps’ team seemed to be heading for a gloomy draw before that unexpected moment.
French president Francois Hollande, who last November was rushed away from the stadium with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after suicide bombers detonated devices near the arena, was seen shaking hands with fans on his way out on Friday.
Security was tight at the Stade de France and fans had been urged to arrive early to have time to go through a double security checks.
France had not played a competitive game in two years and Romania, who had only conceded twice in the qualifying campaign, were a stern reminder that Les Bleus need to be on their toes if they are to win a first title since their Euro 2000 triumph.
“Had we won by two or three goals that might have misled us slightly whereas the fact we won late in the day, that shows there are going to be no easy matches,” man-of-the-match Payet told reporters.