France – Romania 2-1!
Romania came very close to snatching a point from hosts France in the opening match of the Euro 2016. Bogdan Stancus penalty had made it 1-1 after Olivier Giroud’s opening goal. But that wasn’t to be as Dimitri Payet of West Ham United hit a sensational goal to win the match for France.
It was an exciting match and a great way to start off the Euro 2016. Romania came close to scoring a goal as early as in the fourth minute, when Nicolae Stancu’s corner found Bogdan Stancu completely unmarked in the 6-yard area. But he shot straight at France’s goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, even as he had the whole goal before him. That was a miss that Romania would regret dearly.
France then went on an attack with center-forward Olivier Giroud and his partner Antoine Griezmann looking increasingly effective. Giroud’s header only missed the target in the 10th minute and Griezmann headed wide off the post in the 14th minute.
By this time, the tide had turned and France was dominating. Romania had to defend deep to keep them quiet. Griezmann got on the end of a Payet cross in the 37th minute and shot just wide off the net. France pressed and pressed while Romania never looked like attacking at this stage. Giroud was getting increasingly influential and was a real threat up front.
The second half began with Romania attacking more than they did during the first half. Stancu came very close to getting a goal for them in the 48th minute, with an incredible acrobatic effort, but he was flagged off side.
Romanian goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu was called upon to make two critical saves, a shot from Giroud and another from Pogba. But he could not keep out a header from Giroud in the 57th minute, off a cross from Payet. France went ahead 1-0 and the stadium erupted.
The lead only lasted 8 minutes as Romania equalized with a penalty from Stancu. The penalty was given after Patrice Evra was judged to have tripped the Romanian striker. Stancu made no mistake.
Romania held on from then and looked set to get a point from the match. They defended deep and well, with 10 men behind the ball. But that wasn’t to be as Payet, who was by far the best player in the match snatched a winner from outside the box with a brilliant shot off his left foot.
France 2, Romania 1, and Romania had no way of coming back. They were done for the day and now will have to win their remaining two matches to be sure of qualifying for the next round.
Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu described his feelings at the end of the match: “I think we played a good match, with both positives and negatives. We started the first half in excellent fashion and we had a very rare chance that the keeper was able to keep out.
“Had we scored, it would have changed the match. At the start of the second period, we got into the box a great deal but unfortunately Stancu missed that chance again. We had some positives moments and tricky moments because we came up against a powerful side.
“Well done to my players for carrying out my instructions and I thank them for the quality of their play, despite the fact we lost the game. It really hurts to lose a game in the 89th minute. It was a fabulous strike from a wonderful player.”
Author: Raghav Hegde – India