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France star Payet: It is difficult to stop us

Dimitri Payet believes France are going to be difficult for opponents to stop if they hit their peak in the latter stages of Euro 2016.

The playmaker, 29, helped Les Bleus to a 2-1 victory over 10-man Republic of Ireland in Lyon on Sunday as the competition hosts moved into the quarter-finals.

France recovered from Robbie Brady’s early penalty as Antoine Griezmann’s quickfire second-half double proved decisive, before Shane Duffy’s red card ended any hopes of an Ireland recovery.

England or Iceland will now be France’s opponents in the last eight at Stade de France in seven days.

“When we play our way we are difficult to stop,” Payet said to UEFA.

“Our fans were great – even though we were losing, they were still behind us. It is the worst thing that could have happened to go 1-0 down with a penalty early on. In the first half we got a bit annoyed and started playing their game.

“They tried to gain a bit of time and we wasted a lot of energy, but then we really started to play our game.”

Payet insisted he did not have a preference on whether or not France would face England – where he plays his club football with West Ham – in the next round.

He said: “Honestly no – if Iceland win it will be because they are better than England. We saw Croatia go out too and there are no easy opponents. We need to do everything we can to get through.”

Blaise Matuidi, meanwhile, felt France deserved to progress because of their second-half performance against Ireland.

“It wasn’t easy but we deserved the win,” said the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder. “It was much better [in the second half] and I think we did what we needed to do. 

“We got some opportunities in the second half and did everything we needed to do to score. 

“I think the whole team was playing better and that helped us win the game. Personally in the second half I think I played better – when everybody does a little more, the team does better.

“In the first half we didn’t make it easy for ourselves.”

Sun 26 Jun, 2016
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