Euro 2016: Plenty of Emotion Behind Match-Winning Goal, Says Dimitri Payet
Dimitri Payet's 89th minute goal gave France an emotional 2-1 win over Romania in the opening match of Euro 2016
France defeated Romania 2-1 in opening match of Euro 2016
Dimitri Payet plays for Premier League club West Ham United
Romania have not beaten France since 1982
Dimitri Payet left the field in tears of joy after scoring the sensational last-gasp goal in France's 2-1 win over Romania to launch their European Championship campaign in style on Friday.
"It was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, if someone had told me it would have gone like that I don't think I would have believed them," said Payet.
"It was that emotion that came out in the goal," added the 29-year-old who has broken into the France team this year after a stunning season with West Ham United in the English Premier League.
Payet was France's standout performer throughout as he also set up Olivier Giroud's opening goal.
After Romania had equalised and seemed to be holding on for a draw, Payet struck in the 89th minute with a curling 25 metre shot to take the tournament opener.
Payet left the field in tears in stoppage time as he was substituted to a standing ovation at an emotional Stade de France, just seven months after the stadium was targeted in the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November.
Into the corner
After the final whistle, Payet embraced his small son on the field.
Payet said he had been overcome by the way he has fought his way into the French team.
"At the start of the season, a lot of people would have found it hard to believe I would be here," said the attacking midfielder.
"I have got here by working hard," added the hero of the night, who is determined to "soak up the experience" of playing in Euro 2016.
"It is quite easy when you can bang it into the top corner, it solves a lot of problems," said a relieved French coach Didier Deschamps.
"It is the result that matters above all. We know not everything was perfect, far from it."
After the match, West Ham warned off rival clubs who could be tempted to make an offer. The London club took to Twitter to praise the Frenchman's effort.
Deschamps was thoroughly vindicated in his decision to select the former Marseille playmaker over Manchester United's Anthony Martial.
"I have no doubts over Dimitri and the influence he can have on the game. He can make the difference."
However, Deschamps was less complimentary over Juventus star Paul Pogba, who is one of Europe's most wanted talents.
Pogba was hauled off, along with free-scoring Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann, as France toiled before Payet's late intervention.
"I'm not going to be too hard on him but clearly his (Pogba's) potential is such that he can contribute a lot more than he did tonight."
And Deschamps believes the weight of expectation on a French side hoping to lift the spirits of a nation recovering from Paris attacks and battling strikes may have weighed heavy on his side.
"It's an opening match, there is a lot of expectation, there is plenty of fervour from the fans, but the players have certain duties.
"There was the opening ceremony and the protocol that goes with it so it is not easy to manage.
"In the end we were rewarded by the happiness of the French fans."
Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu was left to rue his side's luck after they were seconds away from what would have been a deserved point from a spirited display
"It really hurts to lose a game in the 89th minute," said Iordanescu.
"It was a fabulous strike from a wonderful player."