16 Jun 2016

France into last 16 at Euro 2016

9:42 am on 16 June 2016

Hosts France are the first team through to the last 16 of the Europe 2016 football tournament after beating Albania 2-0 in Marseille.

Dimitri Payet celebrates a goal for France.

Dimitri Payet celebrates a goal for France. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

A 90th-minute header by substitute striker Antoine Griezmann and a stoppage-time special by Dimitri Payet secured France a heartstopping win.

France had struggled to make any impression on a determined Albanian defence and as the clock ticked into the last minute neither team had managed a shot on target -- though both hit a post.

They had needed an 89th-minute Payet goal to beat Romania in their first game and it was even later when centre back Adil Rami swung in a hopeful cross that Griezmann guided expertly home.

The 67,000 Stade Velodrome crowd -- minus 20,000 stunned Albanians -- erupted in a wave of noise, which was repeated minutes later when Payet cut inside to smash in the second.

With six points France are guaranteed to finish in the top two of Group A, with Switzerland, on four points after drawing with Romania earlier, favourites to join them.

France had lost to and drawn with Albania in the last two friendly meetings so they knew they would not be handed the game on a plate by a team desperate to make an impact in their first major tournament, after they were beaten by Switzerland in their opening game having suffered an early red card.