France wins in peaceful Paris, but more trouble in Marseille

11 Jun,2016


Paris, BdChronicle:

France made a perfect start to the European Championship on Friday, with its national team beating Romania and its security forces ensuring that everyone stayed safe at the Stade de France.

Seven months after the stadium was a target of the attacks that claimed 130 lives across Paris, the host nation opened the 24-team tournament with a late 2-1 victory over Romania.

Security forces in Marseille did not have such an easy time. Tear gas was fired at rowdy fans for a second day running ahead of England's opening match against Russia on Saturday, bringing back unhappy memories of the violence involving England supporters in the same south coast city during the 1998 World Cup.

For Dimitri Payet, though, the day could not have gone any better. The France midfielder provided the cross for Olivier Giroud to head in France's 58th minute opener and then scored a spectacular late winner after Bogdan Stancu had leveled from the penalty spot.

Even though he was coming off a superb season in the English Premier League with West Ham, Payet struggled to come to terms with what he had produced in the 89th minute - and burst into tears as he left the pitch after being substituted.

"If someone had told me it would have gone like that, I wouldn't have believed it," he said.

France coach Didier Deschamps paid tribute to a 29-year-old player who galvanized the team as it desperately sought a breakthrough.

"He's capable of doing extraordinary things," Deschamps said. "It was a superb goal."

If Payet's rising shot from outside the area showed the best side of 'the beautiful game', the ugly side was provided by supporters in Marseille's Old Port, as police repeatedly clashed with fans from France, Russia and England deep into the night.

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