- Dimitri Payet scores sensational winner to fire France to 2-1 victory over Romania
- West Ham star also sets up opening goal for Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud
- Les Bleus open Group A with a valuable victory in Paris
The Hammer of the Year produced a fantastic individual display to set up Les Bleus opening goal for
Olivier Giroud before blasting home a wonderful 89th minute winner at the Stade de France.
Payet was impressive all game long, and could have had chalked up a succession of assists before Giroud headed home his country’s 57th-minute opener.
Romania equalised eight minutes later through Nicolae Stanciu’s penalty, but Payet was not to be denied as he scored a Goal of the Tournament contender with a minute of normal time remaining.
Having scored six free-kicks with his right foot, Payet added to his left-foot assist with a truly world-class long-range drive with the same left foot to get his nation off to a winning start in Paris.
The goal sent the home fans – as well as ITV pundit and Hammers manager Slaven Bilic and West Ham United fans everywhere – wild and set Payet’s country off to the perfect start in their home tournament.
A pre-match Twitter poll @whufc_official saw 36% of Hammers fans predict Payet would chalk up a goal and an assist against the Romanians – who included former West Ham full-back Razvan Rat in their starting XI – and they were proved correct as the France No8 produced another virtuoso display.
Former France international Thierry Henry believes Payet had a major point to prove after missing out on a place in the squad for the World Cup Finals two years ago.
Henry said: "Dimitri Payet thought he was going to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He was involved in every qualifying game but they took that away from him.
"Tonight you saw a man who was hurt. He was saying with that performance 'you didn't take me to the World Cup and I am going to show you'. He wanted every single ball. You can't win a game by yourself. but that strike... oh my gosh.
"No one is going to take what is happening to him now away from him. He showed tremendous desire. He was the one that drove the team forward."
The French, who also won the 1998 FIFA World Cup on home turf, face Albania in Marseille in their second Group A fixture on Wednesday 15 June before closing out the opening round against Switzerland in Lille on Sunday 19 June.