The West Ham attacker scored a late stunner to earn the three points after Bogdan Stancu’s second-half penalty had cancelled out Giroud’s opener
Dimitri Payet was France’s hero on Friday as his stunning late strike earned the hosts a 2-1 victory over Romania in their Euro 2016 opener.
Les Bleus were staring down the barrel of a frustrating draw in the Group A contest at the Stade de France with Bogdan Stancu’s penalty cancelling out Olivier Giroud’s 57th-minute opener.
But with the clock winding down, West Ham star Payet – France’s outstanding player on the night – curled in a brilliant left-footed effort from 25 yards to seal all three points.
It was a deserved win for Didier Deschamps’ team and Payet was at the heart of all their best attacking play, the 29-year-old having also provided the assist for Olivier Giroud to head home an eighth goal in his past six international starts.
France’s margin of victory could have been greater with Giroud at times wasteful and Antoine Griezmann hitting the post in the first half.
But Didier Deschamps will be thrilled with the victory, as well as Payet’s dazzling performance.
For all the attacking talent at France’s disposal, concerns over their defence have been highlighted in the build-up to the tournament.
And those worries were evident in the fourth minute when Nicolae Stanciu’s corner was flicked to the back post where Stancu was denied inside the six-yard box by a stunning save from Hugo Lloris.
France survived the shaky start and Giroud should have done better with a header from eight yards that he put past the left-hand post following good work from Payet.
Griezmann then went even closer, the Atletico Madrid forward nodding against the right post after Bacary Sagna’s teasing delivery bounced off Vlad Chiriches.
Les Bleus were frustrated again 10 minutes before the break when Payet’s fizzed cross was met by Griezmann only for a crucial touch from Cristian Sapunaru to take the ball wide.