Dimitri Payet’s spectacular late winner gave hosts France victory over Romania in the opening match of Euro 2016 amid a huge security operation at the Stade de France. On an emotional evening at the same venue where suicide bombers struck in the November attacks that killed 130 people across the city, Payet ensured the game ended on a high note with a sensational 20-yard strike. France, who triumphed in their last two major tournaments on home soil – Euro ’84 and the 1998 World Cup – are favourites to win this time too. But after hitting the post early on through an Antoine Griezmann header, they struggled to find any fluency against a resolute Romania side, who also created good chances.
Les Bleus’ star-studded attack had to wait until the 58th minute to make the breakthrough, when Olivier Giroud headed home Payet’s cross. Romania responded within seven minutes, with Bogdan Stancu scoring from the spot after Patrice Evra clipped Nicolae Stanciu inside the area. A draw looked the most likely outcome until Payet capped a brilliant individual display with his wonder goal in the 89th minute. The West Ham star apart, the hosts’ performance was unconvincing but, for the whole of the France, the result mattered far more.