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Late goals from Griezmann, Payat lift hosts France over Albania to advance

(Xinhua)    09:30, June 16, 2016


MARSEILLE, June 16, 2016 (Xinhua) -- N'Golo Kante (L) of Francevies with Ledian Memushaj of Albania during the Euro 2016 Group A soccer match between France and Albania in Marseille, France, June 15, 2016. (Xinhua/Zhang Fan)

MARSEILLE, France, June 15 (Xinhua) -- France star midfielders Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet scored in the 90th and 96th minute respectively to gift the hosts a 2-0 win over Albania here on Wednesday and the first ticket to the EURO 2016 knockout stage.

The main thing for France was winning and going through. For 89 minutes, it looked like a frustrating night for Les Bleus.

In the 90th minute, second half substitute Griezmann glanced in a header after a fine cross from Adil Rami.

In the 96th minute, Payet, who scored a late goal in the tournament opener against Romania, picked up Paul Pogba's raking pass and cut in from the left before curling home a low effort in the box.

Payet, 29, who plays for West Ham United, said, "Once again I made the difference. Second time win in the dying seconds of the match. It's great."

Payet became the Man of the Match again with another creative display capped off with the second goal which sealed it. He completed 41 of his 54 passes, and caused Albania plenty of problems with his set-piece delivery, creating six chances for his teammates and racking up an impressive 17 crosses.

France coach Didier Deschamps said, "It's tricky to play such a small side and win in this way. In the second half, we played more aggressively. A goalless draw would be a good result for Albania."

"We have qualified clearly. Albanian are also physically fresh. but haven't put too much on the game," Deschamps added.

EURO 2016 is Albania's first major tournament. After losing to Switzerland and France, the debutants are at the bottom of Group A.

Albania coach Giovanni de Biasi said, "My players are upset, but they put a brilliant performance against France. We really caused problem to France tonight."

"Football becomes more tactical. For a national side, it's much harder because we don't have much time together but put all the individuals," Biasi added.

France had won 10 of their last 11 international matches and will want to show patience in aiming to extend that run. However, Albania were well-organised in the first half, and France were frustrated by a deep-lying Albanian backline.

France made a predictable change after the interval, Pogba replacing Martial. France's formation shifted to 4-3-3 with Payet on the left.

Griezmann came from the bench in the 68th minute to play the key role in the rest of the time.

After beating Romania 2-1 and Albania 2-0, France topped Group A with six points, followed by Switzerland with four points, Romania one and Albania none.


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(Editor:Huang Jin,Bianji)

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