France coach Laurent Blanc proved his worth as three substitutes combined to
give Les Bleus a deserved victory over Romania in their Euro 2012 qualifier.
Loic Remy, a second-half replacement for Mathieu Valbuena, netted seven minutes
from time before Dimitrie Payet set up Yoann Gourcuff for a second in stoppage
time to give France their second win and put them top of Group D.
Both sides had earlier hit the woodwork but the game appeared to be heading for
stalemate until Remy struck.
Samir Nasri was at the centre of much of France's good play in the first half
and his dangerous cross was well held by Costel Pantilimon after his defence
failed to deal with it.
Nasri's flicked pass in the area after 19 minutes sent Florent Malouda wide and
he could not get his volley the right side of the near post.
The dangerous Nasri dinked a cross into the centre after 29 minutes but it was
just a fraction high for captain Alou Diarra, who could not keep his header
Valbuena linked well with Karim Benzema but the Marseille man sent his strike
straight at Pantilimon.
The closest either side came to scoring in the first half came five minutes
before the break, when, after good work by Nasri and Malouda, Benzema curled a
lovely effort towards goal from the left side of the area, a shot which grazed
the post on the way out with Pantilimon well beaten.
After the break, Valbuena's neat backheel set up Malouda, whose strike went
wide off Mirel Radoi.
Malouda's cross from the resultant corner was headed goalwards by Philippe
Mexes, but Pantilimon held on.
Valbuena's shot was turned onto the bar by a diving Pantilimon, then Cristian
Chivu hooked the ball clear under pressure from Benzema as the pressure built.
Pantilimon continued to keep his side on level terms as he got a hand to the
ball when Benzema thumped it across goal, then made a double save from Nasri.
Blanc brought Remy on for Valbuena as France searched for a goal, but it was
Romania who came within inches of scoring when, after Gael Clichy gave the ball
away, Cristian Sapunaru's first-time effort hit the inside of the post on
rebounded into Hugo Lloris' arms.
Lloris then stretched to claw away Razvan Cocis' dangerous cross.
The hosts calmed the nerves in the Stade de France as they took the lead after
83 minutes in clinical fashion.
Diarra's long through ball found Remy, who took a touch and finished precisely
with his right foot from a narrow angle.
Remy missed a tough header at the far post and Yann M'Vila saw his effort
saved, before the second arrived in stoppage time courtesy of an impressively
M'Vila found Payet down the right and he kept his cool to pick out fellow
substitute Gourcuff, who slotted home.