Hosts France get Euro 2016 party started on peaceful Paris night
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - Hosts France enjoyed an uplifting start to Euro 2016 as Dimitri Payet's superb last-gasp strike bailed out Les Bleus in a 2-1 victory over a stubborn Romania side at the Stade de France on a peaceful night in the capital on Friday.
Starting the month-long tournament amid strikes to protest against a labor law and terror fears seven months after Islamic attacks on Paris killed 130, the national team lightened the mood thanks to Payet's 20-metre drive into the top corner.
Didier Deschamps' team seemed to be heading for a gloomy draw but a moment of magic from talismanic West Ham United player Payet left the home fans celebrating a memorable win on a serene Paris evening to get the finals off to a fine start.
There were no incidents reported in and around the stadium, where there was a heavy security presence, or at the fan zone, where some 90,000 people were expected to watch the Group A game on giant screens near the Eiffel tower.
French president Francois Hollande, who last November was rushed away from the stadium with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after suicide bombers detonated devices near the arena, was seen shaking hands with fans on his way out on Friday.
Security was tight at the Stade de France and fans had been urged to arrive early to have time to go through a double security perimeter with two successive security checks under the watchful eyes of armed police with bulletproof vests.
There were only cheers inside the stadium, however, as Payet wrapped up the three points following Olivier Giroud's headed opening goal for the hosts just before the hour that was canceled out by Bogdan Stancu's penalty eight minutes later.
A kitsch opening ceremony, featuring about 100 can-can dancers, a techno cover of Edith Piaf's 'La Vie En Rose' and aerobatics by the Patrouille de France jets, launched the event. Continued...