MARSEILLE, Sporting Alert – France left it late, but two late second half goals from Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet piloted the hosts to a 2-0 win over Euro 2016 Group A minnows Albania on Wednesday.
It was the second successive time in the tournament that France was scoring two goals and they helped the home side to secure their passage to the Round of 16, following the opening game win over Romania last Friday.
Griezmann, who with star midfielder Paul Pogba, started the game on the bench, but he came to the rescue of his team when he headed home the go-ahead goal for France in the 90th minute, as the fans inside and outside the stadium rejoiced
And the cheering didn’t stop there, as fellow substitute Pogba helped to setup a second for France.
Pogba, just as he slipped to the ground, send a long ball into the Albanian half for Andre-Pierre Gignac to pick up.
As Gignac slipped, the ball fell into the path of Payet, and the West Ham star curled in his second goal in two matches to secure all the points and eliminated Albania from the tournament.
“Albania played with a lot of heart, a lot of spirit,” France coach Didier Deschamps, who made the bold move to leave out Pogba and Griezmann from the start, said.
“They defend well, they have the ability to counter very fast.”
WE DID GOOD – De Biasi
Albania coach Giovanni De Biasi was also delighted with the way his team played, despite finishing the contest with nothing to show.
“We played,” he said. “We’re a proper team — we play good football.”
He added: “My team resisted right until the end, but we didn’t just defend throughout the match.”
De Biasi went on to said: “Football is becoming a lot more tactical. If you come from the English Premier League, you have the example of Leicester City and what they achieved this year.
“Nobody would have predicted that.”
In the other game played in Group A on Wednesday, Romania and Switzerland finished 1-1 at Parc des Princes in Paris.
Admir Mehmedi scored from a spectacular volley 12-minutes into the second half to earn a point for the Swiss, which had fell behind in the 18th minute on Bogdan Stancu’s penalty kick.
Switzerland, which won its opening game of the Euro 2016 tournament last week, moved to four points in Group A and sits behind leaders France.
Watch Marek Hamsik’s Wonder Strike off the post
Romania, which went down 2-1 to France in the tournament opener last Friday, has one point and will play against the Albanians in its final match of group play.
Meanwhile, in Group B, Slovakia scored two first half goals, including a curling stunner by Marek Hamsik, which went in off the post, en route to sealing a 2-1 win over Russia at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
Vladimir Weiss opened the scoring for Slovakia in the 30th minute with a curling shot also, while Russia pulled one back through substitute Denis Glushakov in the 80th minute.
Euro 2016 Day 6 Results and Scores
France 2-0 Albania
Euro 2016 Group A at Stade Velodrome.
Romania 1-1 Switzerland
Euro 2016 Group A at Parc des Princes.
Russia 1-2 Slovakia
Euro 2016 Group B at Stade Pierre-Mauroy.