Euro 2016 finally got under way in Paris on Friday night and the host nation got off to a perfect start with a dramatic 2-1 win over Romania.
Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud headed home the opening goal of the competition after 56 minutes before Bodgan Stancu levelled from the spot ten minutes later.
Just when it looked as though a stubborn Romanian outfit was going to hold out for a hard-earned draw, Dimitri Payet provided a moment of brilliance with two minutes remaining, unleashing a stunning long-range strike into the top corner to win it.
City’s Bacary Sagna started for the host nation and played the full 90 minutes and he had an excellent game at right-back, providing exhaustive coverage of the right flank in both attacking and defensive positions, as well as providing a couple of precise crosses.
Eliaquim Mangala was an unused substitute.
At a vibrant, colourful Stade de France, the hosts took time to get into their stride and perhaps should have found themselves a goal down after six minutes when Nicolae Stanciu latched onto a cross at the back post but Hugo Lloris made a stunning reaction save.
France grew into the game and Sagna nearly assisted the night’s opening goal nine minutes later when he swung in an excellent cross from the right which Antoine Griezmann headed onto the frame of the goal.
There was a frantic tone to the remainder of a half which Didier Deschamps’ men enjoyed the majority of the ball and the best chances.
One of those opportunities fell the way of Griezmann again but this time his sidefooted effort from close range rippled the sidenetting via a deflection off a Romanian boot.
Inside line on the hosts
Arsenal striker Giroud had the last chance of the first 45 but he couldn’t bring his header from a Payet cross under the crossbar and so the teams went in goalless.
The second period began in the same manner as the first with the underdogs almost taking a surprise lead.
This time it was Bogdan Stancu who had the chance to shoot after finding space on the edge of the area and Lloris would have been relieved to see the scissor kick roll wide of the target.
Once again France rallied and their poster boy Paul Pogba came close to giving them the lead on 55 minutes with a thrashing volley from the edge of the area but it was too close to the goalkeeper who made the save.
If Romania stopper Ciprian Tatarusanu had cause to feel pleased with his efforts on that Pogba chance, his pleasure would turn to bitter disappointment a minute later as he flapped at a Payet cross allowing Giroud to head home the first goal of the tournament.
Romania had the chance to hit back inside ten minutes of the opener when Patrice Evra fouled Stanciu and Stancu took responsibility for the spot-kick, sending Lloris the wrong way.
Deschamps sent on Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial in the remaining 25 minutes but it was the game’s outstanding player in Payet who broke Romanian hearts with his stunning hit from distance on 88 minutes.
All's well that ends well... Albania are up next for France on Wednesday night.