SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — An inspired Dimitri Payet scored one goal and set up another Friday to help France beat Romania 2-1 and give the European Championship a start the host nation badly wanted.
Payet capped an outstanding display by curling in an 89th-minute shot with his left foot to restore France’s earlier lead. He was substituted soon after to a standing ovation with tears in his eyes.
Riding its luck from wasteful Romanian finishing, France took the lead in the 58th when Olivier Giroud headed in Payet’s cross from the right.
The lead lasted only seven minutes. Romania forward Bogdan Stancu slotted in from the penalty spot after a foul by Patrice Evra.
While many expect France midfielder Paul Pogba to shine at Euro 2016, Payet was France’s main creative force at the Stade de France.
Roaming free on both wings, Payet created Giroud’s first headed chance in the 10th, then fired a low cross that Antoine Griezmann met with a shot deflected wide.
When Pogba was freed to move forward in the 57th, he was picked out near the penalty spot by Payet for a volleyed shot that Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu blocked with his legs.
In his deeper role, Pogba’s perfectly angled pass set right back Bacary Sagna free to cross and cause confusion that led to Greizmann’s header against the post in the 14th minute.
Payet was in a classic playmaker No. 10 role when Pogba was substituted with 15 minutes left.
Stancu earlier spurned clear chances in each half as Romania pressed the favored French hard.
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris crouched on his goal-line in the fourth minute to block Stancu’s close-range shot after a corner. Three minutes into the second half, Stancu volleyed weak and wide when left alone from eight meters.
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