France manager Didier Deschamps insists a more feisty approach is paying dividends for Dimitri Payet after the West Ham playmaker scored one of two late goals as Les Bleus eventually dispatched minnows Albania in Marseille.
A second successive win propelled hosts France into the tournament’s knockout phase as victory was sealed courtesy of strikes from substitute Antoine Griezmann and Payet as the clock ticked down.
“Payet has become more consistent,” said Deschamps. “He’s always had ability and a lot of confidence. Now, in one-on-one situations and challenges, he’s always up for the fight.”
Pescara’s Ledian Memushaj and Olivier Giroud of Arsenal both traded efforts which struck the woodwork before Albania’s resistance was finally broken in the 90th minute as Griezmann headed home a right-wing Adil Rami cross.
Just as he did against Romania in France’s opening clash in Paris on Friday, Payet netted a late goal as he weaved beyond the opposing defence and whipped an effort past goalkeeper Etrit Berisha. Albania must now beat Romania on Sunday to stand any chance of progressing.
Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic, meanwhile, has played down his side’s profligacy in front of goal after a 1-1 draw with Romania at Parc des Princes translated into there being work to do before a place in the knockout phase is secured.
Victory would have confirmed Switzerland’s presence in the last-16 but an early penalty from Romania’s Bogdan Stancu – his second of the tournament – put a spanner in those particular works. Bayer Leverkusen forward Admir Mehmedi levelled in the second period.
Depending on how third-placed Romania fare against Albania, the Swiss could require at least a point from their final group match against already-qualified France in Lille in order to finish in the top two.
“We created lots of chances but only managed to score one, unfortunately,” said Petkovic. “I’m not concerned about the lack of goals. You have to get in those positions first.
“We’ll now start looking forward to the France game and make sure we’re as prepared as we can be for that.”