Day three of my European Championship journey and I was back to watching live football as we headed to PSG’s Parc des Princes for the Group A game between Switzerland and Romania, before spending the evening soaking up the incredible atmosphere of a French game in the Eiffel Tower fanzone.
Another day in Paris began with some more sightseeing, starting with a short visit to Les Invalides, burial site of Napoleon Bonaparte and one of the few remaining famous locations I hadn’t previously visited in the city.
Next up was the Arc de Triomphe, arguably the second most famous landmark in Paris after the Eiffel Tower. I had visited here before back in 2014, but today my Dad and I decided to go to the top for the first time – offering an incredible view all over this incredible city!
Following a walk down the world famous Champs Elysee and a quick photo outside the George V hotel, where The Beatles stayed in the 1960’s, we caught the metro heading towards the Parc des Princes – accompanied by many noisy and colourful Swiss and Romanian supporters!
Today saw the start of the second round of group games, starting with Slovakia’s 2-1 win over Russia in the 3 o’clock kick off.
Switzerland and Romania were in Group A alongside hosts France and debutants Albania, and the two had made contrasting starts to the tournament against very different opposition.
The Swiss began Euro 2016 in Lens with a 1-0 win over Albania, meaning victory this afternoon in Paris would secure a comfortable passage into the last sixteen.
However, Romania had proved in Friday’s curtain-raiser against France that they were no pushovers, losing only to an unstoppable stoppage time winner from Dimitri Payet.
There was a party atmosphere outside the home of the Ligue 1 champions with brightly-coloured supporters in excitable mood ahead of the game, as well as plenty of entertainment.
The two team coaches were greeted by thousands of supporters lining the streets to welcomes their national heroes, who got this hugely important contest underway in the sunshine at 6pm local time.
And despite the fact that, on paper at least, it was possibly the least attractive of our three games – the match was actually a highly entertaining and competitive affair.
Both sides spurned early chances before Romania broke the deadlock in the 18th minute from the penalty spot.
The Russian referee pointed to the spot after deciding Stephan Lichsteiner had dragged Alexandru Chipciu to the ground, and Bogdan Stancu duly converted his second spot kick in as many games to put his nation ahead – a moment greeted with pure joy and a few flares from the Romanian supporters!
Switzerland were controlling much of the possession without threatening the goal all that often while Romania, who remained ahead to the interval, remained a dangerous counter-attacking prospect.
Shortly before the hour, the Swiss levelled the contest. A whipped in corner wasn’t properly dealt with by the defence and the ball was met with a thunderous strike from Admir Mehmedi to make it 1-1.
From here, Romania clung on to a vital point that left both sides with a reasonable chance to qualify under the updated format – the Eastern Europeans knowing a win over Albania should now be enough.
Our day wasn’t over yet, however, as we raced across to the Eiffel Tower (via the metro system!) to watch the evening game, which featured hosts France, in the fanzone.
It was an amazing experience with thousands and thousands of colourful, excited and passionate French supporters all united in cheering on their nation under the backdrop of one of the most iconic locations – one kind Frenchman even giving me a flag to help me join the party!
Their side were struggling to break down a resolute Albania however, leaving many with a concerned look on their face as they watched the action on the big screen. But in the 90th minute this turned to elation – Antoine Griezmann’s header creating an explosion of celebration the likes of which I’ve never seen before!
Dimitri Payet sealed the victory with a 96th minute goal and this left the streets of Paris in party mode and we caught a glimpse of this surreal atmosphere as we headed back after a long day, with fans walking down the street singing the national anthem, ‘Allez Les Bleus’ and more as the Eiffel Tower was lit up in the colours of the ‘Tricolor’. Yet another unforgettable experience.
Line-up: Ciprian Tatarusanu, Cristian Sapunaru, Vlad Chiriches, Dragos Grigore, Razvan Rat (Steliano Filip ’62), Andrei Prepelita, Mihai Pintilii (Ovidiu Hoban ’46), Gabriel Torje, Bogdan Stancu (Florin Andone ’84), Alexandru Chipciu, Claudiu Keseru
Unused Subs: Costel Pantilimon, Alexandru Matel, Cosmin Moti, Denis Alibec, Nicolae Stanciu, Valerica Gaman, Lucian Sanmartean, Adrian Popa, Silviu Lung Jr.
Scorers: Bogdan Stancu ’18 (pen)
Line-up: Yann Sommer, Stephan Lichsteiner, Fabian Schar, Johan Djourou, Ricardo Rodriguez, Valon Behrami, Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri (Shani Tarashaj ’90), Blerim Dzemaili (Michael Lang ’83), Admir Mehmedi, Haris Seferovic (Breel Embolo ’64)
Unused Subs: Francois Moubandje, Nico Elvedi, Steve Von Bergen, Fabien Frei, Marwin Hitz, Denis Zakaria, Gelson Fernandes, Eren Derdiyok, Roman Burki
Scorers: Admir Mehmedi ’57
Date: 15th June 2016
Competition: Euro 2016 – Group A
Referee: Sergey Karasev
Gallery (click for larger images):