France became the first team to qualify to the next round of the European Championship after leaving it late for the second consecutive time against Romania earlier this morning.
Didier Deschamps unsurprisingly left Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann out of his starting eleven because of their uninspiring performance against Romania in the opening game at the Stade de France on Saturday. Giovanni De Biasi was without captain Lorik Cana after the latter was given the marching orders after collecting two yellow cards against Switzerland.
The home team were the better team throughout the entire 90 minutes but were unable to transform their chances into goals right up to the dying stages of the intense encounter. Substitute Antoine Griezmann sent a message to his manager after opening the lead on the 90th minute as was on the right end of Adil Rami’s delivery. A few minutes later, none other than Dimitri Payet doubled his country’s lead after placing the ball past to the far corner.
Here are the three most inspiring players of the night:
The ex-Manchester United left-back showed that age is just a number after finishing the game as the best player on the field. The 5-foot-8 defender won a whopping 17 aerial duels in the match and was one of France’s best outlet going forward despite Anthony Martial underperforming on the same flank. He also made four important clearances and two key interceptions. He turned 35 last month and still is one of the best left-backs in the world.
The West Ham United man scored his fourth goal in six appearances for France this year and has definitely been Didier Deschamps’ best selection in the 23-man squad. He created six chances throughout the entire match and whipped in 17 crosses into the penalty box. He left it late yet again after scoring on the 89th minute against Romania last weekend and improved on his European Championship form after bagging in two goals and one assist.
The Bayern Munich winger, who was preferred over Antoine Griezmann on the right flank, stepped up his game and impressed the home crowd with a tenacious performance. He lifted the supporters, even the Albanians, off their feet after performing a sweet roulette turn on Burim Kukeli. He also managed to complete six out of seven take ons and was unfortunately to not get himself on the scoresheet in the second half after his header went inches wide.