France vs. Romania: Dimitri Payet stunner gives Euro 2016 hosts win

    Story highlights

    • France beat Romania 2-1 in Euro 2016
    • Dimitri Payet scores 89th-minute winner
    • Euro 2016 runs from June 10-July 10
    • DJ David Guetta stars in opening ceremony

    Stade de France, Paris (CNN)Amid floods, strikes and terrorism concerns in France, the country's soccer team attempted to shift the focus to matters sporting Friday as Les Bleus began their bid to win European soccer's continental showpiece.

    Over 80,000 fans had arrived at the Stade de France in plenty of time to get through a number of security checks and provide an electric atmosphere for Euro 2016's opening match after DJ David Guetta had been the headline act for the tournament's opening ceremony.
      The atmosphere got even more raucous when Dimitri Payet's stunning 89th-minute curling shot secured a 2-1 win for France against Romania.
      Bidding to win the European Championship for the third time after its 1984 and 2000 triumphs, Olivier Giroud's header had given France a second-half lead before Bogdan Stancu equalized with a penalty.
      "For security everything's been done to make it run smoothly -- for the players and the fans," said France coach Didier Deschamps. "I believe Euro 2016 will be a great success."
      The Stade de France was the stage for one of France's greatest sporting triumphs -- its 1998 World Cup final win over Brazil -- but the 81,338 capacity venue was also caught up in one of the country's most recent tragedies after it was targeted during the November terror attacks.
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      The first suicide bomber detonated his explosives 15 minutes into a friendly between France and Germany, killing 63-year-old Manuel Colaço Dias, the first of 130 fatalities as the attackers, armed with assault rifles and explosives, targeted six locations across Paris.
      But that hadn't deterred 31-year-old doctor Bogdan Baleanu-Curaj, who had traveled from Aachen in Germany, to buy tickets to watch Romania play Friday.
      "A lot of my family and relatives are worried and told me to stay at home," Baleanu-Curaj, whose wife is expecting their second child in August, told CNN ahead of the game.
      "But if everyone stays at home they [terrorists] make their point by creating terror."
      Baleanu-Curaj was going to the game with his friend Zhuojun Wu, who also lives and works in Germany.
      "The love for soccer is bigger than the fear for life," said the 32-year-old scientist who was born in Jiangxi in China.
      Those two Romanian fans must have been hugely encouraged by the start Anghel Iordanescu's team made as forward Nicolae Stanciu's shot drew a wonderful save from French captain Hugo Lloris in the opening minutes.
      Romania hadn't beaten France since 1982 and gradually the Euro 2016 hosts established control of the match in the first half.
      Arsenal forward Giroud might have done better with a couple of headers, while Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann twice went close for France.
      First he hit the post with a header after Romania's defense failed to clear the ball and then Griezmann fizzed a shot narrowly wide.
      Romania began the second half just as brightly as they had the start of the match and Stancu volleyed wide when he only had Lloris to beat.
      Much of France's best work was inspired by Payet and Paul Pogba and those two superbly combined just before France took the lead.
      Payet's skill and vision teed up a volley for Pogba, whose shot was blocked by Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
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      It was a Payet cross that set up Giroud's header to put France ahead as the Arsenal striker nabbed his eighth goal in his last six international matches.
      But the optimism of French fans didn't last long.
      Patrice Evra tripped Nicolae Stanciu in the penalty area and Stancu calmly slotted home the spotkick.
      With time running out it looked as if Romania might emerge with a drew but Payet's wonderful shot secured all three points for France and put them top of Group A.
      An emotional Dimitri Payet acknowledges the supporters after his magical matchwinner.
      Born on the French island of Reunion, Payet was substituted in stoppage time and he left the pitch in tears.
      "There was a lot of stress and pressure -- and that came out with the goal," said Payet, reflecting on the tension that traditionally accompanies the hosts of major tournaments.
      "Dmitri can make the difference," added Deschamps. "When you bang it into the top corner it solves a lot of problems."
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      Friday's game was preceded by the tournament's opening ceremony where the Stade de France pitch was dressed up as a "French garden," with dancers -- performing around a carousel -- providing a choreographed interpretation of elements of French culture.
      That was the prelude to French DJ Guetta and Swedish singer Zara Larsson performing the official song of the European Championship, before the acrobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force -- "Patrouille de France" -- flew over the stadium trailing smoke in the color of France's flag.
      This is the European Championship's 15th edition with two-time defending champions Spain and reigning world champions Germany leading the way with three titles each.
      Just another 50 games to safely negotiate now.

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