The stats alone behind Dimitri Payet’s performance against Romania are absurd: a game-winning goal, an assist, multiple highlight reel skills, and eight key passes. The context behind them elevate his performance too nothing short of legendary.
After making only 18 appearances for France prior to today, after being passed over time and time again again by the biggest clubs in the world, 29-year-old Dimitri Payet scored the game winning goal to give France a 2-1 victory over Romania in the opening match of Euro 2016, a tournament that France is hosting.
Payet wasn’t just the man of the match; he was the toast of a nation, and he was so overcome by what he had just accomplished that he had tears in his eyes when he was subbed off. And honestly, who could blame him?
— Football Stuff (@FootbalIStuff) June 10, 2016
Oh, and I should mention that Payet scored that game-winning goal with his weaker left foot, because of course he did, because that is how good of a year Payet is having.
This man of the match performance for France against Romania, as amazing as it was, was really just a continuation of his club form for West Ham in the Premier League. Throughout the 15/16 campaign Payet showed the same mesmerizing skills, the same playmaking eye, and the same scoring touch that we all saw today.
France, of course, will hope that they don’t need to rely on Payet as much as West Ham did throughout the rest of Euro 2016. France simply has too much quality to be a one man show, but today all of that quality fell a little flat. There were moments when France looked as dangerous as their talents say they should, but not many.
Payet’s heroic performance was as much an indication of his own brilliance as it was a sign of trouble: France needed to be saved against Romania, who are one of the weaker opponents they will face.
For now, France and Payet can rest easy knowing that their first game ended with a win, and an incredibly inspirational one at that. France still have two more games to adjust, which is a much better position to be in than Romania, who have to more games to survive.
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