Marseille - Antoine
Griezmann struck late on before Dimitri Payet added a second in injury
time as hosts France secured their ticket to the last 16 of Euro 2016
with a 2-0 win over Albania on Wednesday.
France began their bid for a first European Championship title in 16 years with a nervous 2-1 win over Romania last Friday.
But despite creating a host of scoring chances against the Balkan
minnows in a stirring second half, it took Atletico Madrid striker
Griezmann to rescue a pale version of Les Bleus with a 90th-minute
header at the Stade Velodrome.
Coach Didier Deschamps replaced under-performing midfielder Paul
Pogba with Anthony Martial while Kingsley Coman replaced Griezmann for
France's first game at the Stade Velodrome since their triumphant World
Cup campaign in 1998.
It meant a change from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, with Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud playing solo up front.
But after a frustrating first half of few real chances for the hosts, Deschamps was quickly reconsidering his options.
Albania, missing captain and ex-Marseille player Lorik Cana through
suspension following his sending-off in the tournament debutants' 1-0
defeat to Switzerland, deployed a defence-minded 4-5-1 that made their
conservative tactics clear.
And France, despite showing plenty of promise throughout, struggled to come up with the antidote.
Payet, who hit a stunning winner for France last Friday, showed
promise with a great delivery for Giroud but the striker's header was a
Albania midfielder Ermir Lenjani's then sent a drive just wide but the Balkan minnows would threaten again.
France's offside trap was non-existent when Napoli defender Elseid
Hysaj broke free on the right to collect a long ball and deliver a cross
that deflected off Martial as Armando Sadiku ran in towards goal.
It was a brief scare, and France responded with a string of mistakes
that left Deschamps holding his head in his hands before the half hour.
As widely expected, Pogba replaced Martial for the start of the second half, inspiring the hosts to a far improved performance.
Seconds after kick off a great delivery from Giroud was helped on by
Blaise Matuidi, but Coman's header from six yards out bounced just wide.
But France were given another scare when Bacary Sagna missed a
dangerous delivery that came off the post, bounced off the head of
Ledian Memushaj and went out for a goal kick.
This time, the scare ws big enough to prompt a rousing French response.
Moments later, Payet met Giroud's nice lay-off to hit an inviting
delivery with the outside of his right boot towards the back post where
Pogba rushed in only to fire inches over.
When N'Golo Kante made a timely interception to help set up Coman on
the left, Giroud timed his jump to perfection but his header glanced
wide on 67 minutes.
Coman was replaced by Griezmann soon after, and moments later Giroud
rose to meet Patrice Evra's delicately chipped delivery to fire his
header off the post.
Deschamps replaced Giroud with former Marseille favourite
Andre-Pierre Gignac with 13 minutes remaining, but as the hosts
maintained their push for the opener it was Griezmann who broke the
deadlock when he rose to meet Adil Rami's cross to beat Lazio 'keeper
It broke Albania's resolve and five minutes later Payet claimed his
second of the competition with a fine curling strike that beat Berisha
at his far post.