Dimi eager to 'stop the crazy scenarios'

  • Dimitri Payet says France want to score earlier in matches at UEFA Euro 2016
  • West Ham United star scored latest goal in Euro history against Albania on Wednesday
  • Payet says Les Bleus have a strong and united squad as they prepare for the round of 16
Dimitri Payet says France will try not to leave it late in every Euro 2016 match they play, but said their ability to score last-gasp goals is a good habit to have.

The West Ham United midfielder netted for the second Group A fixture in succession on Wednesday, adding a 96th-minute strike to complete a 2-0 win over Albania to his 89th-minute winner against Romania last Friday evening.

Payet’s goal at his old Marseille stamping ground came minutes after substitute Antoine Griezmann had finally broken Albania’s stubborn resistance with a 90th-minute header – a goal welcomed with huge joy and relief.

“We will try to stop the crazy scenarios like this!” said Payet, referring to the fact that France have scored three of their four tournament goals in the 89th minute or later.

“If you enter the game as we did in the second period, we can score earlier and be calmer in the closing stages.

“In the first period, they were fresh and grouped in front of their own goal and I had less possession and time on the ball than usual. Then, with the entry of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann it was different, as the game became more spread and open.”
If you enter the game as we did in the second period, we can score earlier and be calmer in the closing stages
Payet’s run and finish in the sixth minute of added time was the latest ‘normal time’ goal ever scored in a UEFA European Championship finals, and continued France’s recent run of scoring late goals.

Didier Deschamps’ side beat both the Netherlands and Cameroon – the latter courtesy of Payet’s last-minute free-kick – in the closing moments of warm-up matches, before their late shows against Romania and Albania.

“What is good is that this is not new,” said the Hammers star, whose goals mean France are through to the round of 16 with a game to spare. “In March against the Netherlands, it was already shown we could get those victories there at the end.

“We said before the match that we should be patient. In the first half, maybe we passed the ball through the middle a bit too much. But in the second have, we used more width.

“The [first two matches] show we can be present throughout the length of a match.”

While Payet has taken centre-stage, France’s strong squad depth make them many people’s favourites for the trophy.

On Wednesday, it was the introduction of Atletico Madrid striker Griezmann from the bench that made all the difference as he deftly glanced home Adil Rami’s cross to break the deadlock.

“It's a special feeling because we were told last week that everyone was important in this group,” Payet revealed. “Many people doubted but, again, we have shown that to be true. This is the most beautiful way to show it. The words union and cohesion were highlighted.”

For the West Ham man, his performances are making French fans happy, both on the mainland and in his homeland on the faraway Indian Ocean island of Reunion.

“I have known for quite some time that my island supports me,” he smiled. “There is a special fervor there for Les Bleus. I felt that on Wednesday night and I know that they are happy that the France team has qualified for the knockout stages.”