France defender Bacary Sagna hailed Dimitri Payet for bringing his club form to the international stage as the West Ham star secured an opening 2-1 Euro 2016 win over Romania for the tournament hosts.
Payet turned in a virtuoso display and had long established himself as the most influential player on the field before he crossed for Olivier Giroud’s 57th-minute opener.
Bogdan Stancu missed gilt-edged chances at the start of each half but the Romania striker made no mistake from the penalty spot after Nicolae Stanciu went down under a challenge from Patrice Evra.
It meant France once again had to turn to Payet and his did not disappoint, cutting inside to thump a magnificent left-footed strike into the top corner.
The visibly emotional 29-year-old was then substituted to a standing ovation on what could prove to be a career-defining night and Manchester City right-back Sagna – himself a solid and dependable presence when opening-night nerves threatened to get the better of Didier Deschamps’ side – lavished praise on his team-mate.
“It was a great performance from Dimitri,” he told Omnisport. “I think he made the difference today, clearly.
“He was involved in both goals and he managed to play really well – he managed to play the way he does with West Ham.
“I’m not surprised to see him perform the way he did.
“I think he brings confidence to the team, he brings fluidity and some quality technically.
“He is a naturally gifted player so I am not surprised to see him perform the way he did.”
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