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UEFA Euro 2016: Griezmann, Payet leave Albania behind to take France into last 16

Joy Tirkey | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

A week into Euro 2016 and France has already had two close shaves. The first, against Romania in the opening game of the championship and then again when Didier Deschamps' men faced Albania on 15 June.

Star players Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet propelled France in the round of 16 by scoring two late goals against Albania at Stade Velodrome in Marseille.

Albania's well-organised and determined side made France work hard for the victory and compelled Deschamps to get Greizmann and Pogba off the bench. He chose Kingsley Coman and Anthony Martial as wide attackers in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Martial replaced Greizmann while Coman replaced Paul Pogba.

Payet took two good free-kicks in the first-half, both of which were headed over the bar by Oliver Giroud. Although Albania's priority seemed to be defence, the team seemed to sense France's hastiness and made a number of attempts to take the game forward.

In the 40th minute, Ledian Memushaj pulled through a good cross towards Ermir Lenjani, who shot from the centre of the box. However, his attempt was blocked. In the first-half injury time, Memushaj took a strike from outside the box that missed the mark.

The first-half of the match saw tension build up in the France camp - with a number of missed chances.

Pogba came on at the start of the second half. And just moments after the kick off, Balise Matuidi delivered a wonderful cross ball. However, Coman's header from six yards out bounced wide. Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann came on for Coman in the 69th minute.

France supporters held their breath as Bacary Sagna missed his chance from Ledin Memushaj, prompting the host nation to up their game.

The second half saw some glorious football, with France attacking Albania, attempting to break down their defence.

In the last ten minutes of the game, Griezmann missed a header and Blaise Matuidi and N'Golo Kante saw their shots blocked.

Albania kept clearing the ball hastily but it never really went beyond their own half. The team stood strong until Griezmann found the back of the net in the 89th minute, giving France a reason to celebrate. Griezmann strongly headed in Adil Rami's cross following a corner. In the minutes following Griezmann's goal, Andre-Pierre Gignac made a wonderful run with the ball which was helped by Dider Payet who curled the ball to get it past Berisha and give France the winner they were looking for.


What cost Albania the game was the fact that they fell back too deep and gave France the freedom to dominate the game play.France now sit atop Group A with 6 points and have sealed a place in the last 16. Albania, having lost both their games, sit at the bottom with an empty account.

First published: 16 June 2016, 12:08 IST