Football

Payet put in a man of the match performance .

Dimitri Payet can be France's inspiration

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Dimitri Payet was France's inspiration as they battled to a 2-1 win against Romania in the opening match of Euro 2016.

Despite sharing the pitch with the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, it was the West Ham attacker that shone brightest for Les Bleus as they opened the tournament with a victory.

France struggled in the first half, nearly conceding after only a few minutes, before settling down to largely dominate the game.

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Hard worker

The 29-year-old was industrious and worked hard tracking back, as well as bombing forward looking to create chances, and it was little surprise that he was named Man of the Match.

He provided the assist for Olivier Giroud's opener - the Arsenal striker got the faintest touch but it was enough to beat Romanian stopper Ciprian Tatarasanu.

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Romania fought back and won a penalty which forward Bogdan Stancu converted excellently beyond Hugo Lloris.

But just when it seemed France would have to settle for a draw, Payet struck a stunning shot that rose into the top corner and left Tatarasanu completely beaten.

This performance was no fluke. The former Marseille man had a phenomenal first season with West Ham in the Premier League, racking up 9 goals in 30 games, and assisting his Hammers team-mates a fantastic 12 times.

Underrated star

While much of the attention this summer will be focused on Pogba - who has been linked with a move to several European giants such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid - Payet is the understated gem in the French midfield.

Indeed, Pogba looked rather sloppy in possession early on in the game and didn't have the greatest impact. On the other hand, Payet remained calm and it paid off for the host nation. 

France have the potential to go all the way at Euro 2016, and in Payet they have a determined, skilful forward who could be the catalyst to that success.

Is Payet France's best player? Have your say in the comments. 

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Topics:
Paul Pogba
Euro 2016
Football
Dimitri Payet

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