Despite two unconvincing outings the Euro 2016, hosts France have made it two wins out of two sealing their place in the knockout stages of the competition, following late goals from Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet, in their second group game against Albania.
Coach Didier Deschamps had surprisingly left out two star names from his starting lineup – Griezmann and Paul Pogba. it was evident from the whistle that it was the wrong play as France were awful in front of goal, carving out numerous chances but not managing a single shot on target.
Evidently, the hosts needed more bite, more zest, more thrust, and after the first half interval, on came Pogba and France improved significantly. Albania however had chances of their own, even striking the post shortly after half-time when Ledian Memushaj bundled a cross past France keeper Hugo Lloris. Deschamps’ men grabbed better hold of the game and there were the stand out performers – Payet, N’golo Kante – both players who had carried their Premier League form into the tournament. Sadly for France though, Olivier Giroud carried his form in front of goal into the tournament.
Despite getting better as the game wore on, France kept it late, very late. In the 90th minute of play, Andi Rami had picked up a loose ball on the right and crossed for Atletico man, Griezmann who was cool as you would like in the air to nod the ball gently to the right of the Albanian goal. There was still time for one last moment of Payet- brilliance. It was clear what the West Ham man had in mind as soon as he got the ball on his feet, he drove into the penalty area and nobody dared to stop him. He fired a shot with his right foot with gracious wonder, sealing the victory for France.
The defeat was tough on Albania, who looked to have done enough to earn their first point.