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Deschamps: France still not over Euro final loss

France
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France manager Didier Deschamps blames AC/DC concert for poor pitch

The turf at Marseille's Stade Velodrome was a touch too much for Didier Deschamps' France to handle against Albania on Wednesday.

And the France coach laid the blame with officials who allowed a rock concert to be staged at the stadium last month.

"It's a disaster, but that's not surprising," Deschamps said of the pitch. "If you have an AC/DC concert a month before the European Championships -- they're changing the pitch, re-laying the turf."

Anthony Martial, Olivier Giroud and Kingsley Coman were clearly having problems getting a grip on the grass as France failed to walk all over a well-organised Albanian back-line.

However, two late goals spared the French blushes to send the hosts through to the knockout stages, with Antoine Griezmann opening the scoring in the 90th minute and Dimitri Payet shooting to thrill a partisan Marseille crowd with the last kick of the 2-0 victory.

Albania coach Giovanni De Biasi had a simple solution: "When you've got some good boots, you can avoid slips."

Olivier Giroud and France were frustrated by Albania on Wednesday.
A number of French players, Olivier Giroud included, slipped during France's 2-0 win over Albania on Wednesday.

France forward Griezmann was dropped to the bench after a lacklustre display against Romania in the opening group game, but believes his late goal in Wednesday's win over Albania made up for his performance.

The Atletico Madrid attacker headed home with France's first attempt on target, and told reporters that he is relieved to have bounced back quickly.

"I'm very emotional -- very happy," Griezmann said. "We really wanted to win to be qualified. That was the main thing and now we want to guarantee first place on Sunday in Lille against Switzerland.

"There are 23 of us. The coach had to manage the squad. The coach told me before the pre-match talk that I was a substitute. He asked me to be ready... and the goal is definitely revenge for the match that I played [against Romania]."

West Ham midfielder Payet, 29, was named man of the match for the second game running, and the midfielder feels that France's habit of finding a winning goal late in games is no bad thing.

"What's good is that it's not new," Payet said. "In March against Netherlands we already showed at the end that we could get wins like this.

"It's a special feeling because we said last week that everyone was important in this squad. A lot of people doubted that but once again we showed it. It's the most beautiful way to demonstrate it this evening."

France captain Hugo Lloris was also delighted with the win and credited the French crowd with inspiring the late match-winning heroics.

"This demonstrates once again that the game is played in the head," Lloris told reporters. "We have to believe until the end. Play with the heart, head, legs, and I want to emphasise that the public has played its role.

"It is a great pleasure to be on the field and feel all this enthusiasm that prompted us to go for the win."

ESPN FC's France correspondent Mark Rodden and ESPN FC's Tottenham Hotspur correspondent Dan Kilpatrick contributed to this report.

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