Grace Geyoro scored a hat-trick as France underlined their credentials as one of the favourites to win Euro 2022 by thrashing Italy 5-1 in their Group D opener at Rotherham’s New York Stadium.
Corinne Diacre’s side are looking to win a major tournament for the first time, and they put in a performance that will certainly make other teams sit up and take notice.
Italian forward Barbara Bonansea forced a great save out of goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in the first few minutes, but from then things took a bad turn for Italy as France put on an attacking masterclass.
Geyoro got the first of her goals in the ninth minute when she fired home from the lively Kadidiatou Diani’s cross.
Marie-Antoinette Katoto, widely tipped to win the Golden Boot at this tournament, scored her 26th international goal in her 31st appearance just three minutes later, stabbing in after the goalkeeper had palmed a shot into her path.
Katoto then saw a header hit the post before Delphine Cascarino made it 3-0 with a thunderous strike six minutes before the break.
There was still time for France to score twice more before half-time as Geyoro rolled in after rounding the goalkeeper, before she completed her hat-trick with with a neat finish from 14 yards.
To Italy’s credit, they did improve after the break, although they were fortunate to finish the game with 10 players when Sara Gama had a red card overturned following a VAR review, despite the challenge appearing reckless.
Martina Piemonte then headed in with 14 minutes remaining to give the travelling Italy fans a consolation to cheer.
“We wanted to show what we were made of,” Diacre said. “Hats off to my players. They were high performing from the get go. We felt great synergy between the players on the pitch.
“The proof is in the pudding, we saw this in the first half.”
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France fire warning to rivals
Ranked third in the world and arriving at the tournament on the back of 14 consecutive victories, France are rightly viewed as being among the leading contenders to win Euro 2022 – even if, to date, success at major tournaments has eluded them.
They have failed to progress further than the quarter-finals in their six previous appearances at the European Women’s Championships, however this performance showed that they have the intention and quality to go much further this time.
Italy simply had no answer to France’s brilliant attack in the first half, with Diani’s trickery and direct running causing panic in the defence, while Katoto – who in addition to her goal provided the assist for Geyoro’s second – highlighted why she is a striker to be feared at Euro 2022.
On this showing, no defence will want to come up against this France attack, which blended skill, pace and clinical finishing to devastating effect.
Defensive work to do for Italy
Having failed to get out of the group stage in 2017, Italy were hoping to do much better this time around. But such a heavy defeat in their opening game is far from an ideal start.
However, they can take heart from their second-half display. As outclassed as they were in the opening 45 minutes, they competed after the break and were unfortunate to not have more than the one consolation goal.
That may have been down to France stepping off in attack to conserve energy, but Italy should take encouragement from how they finished the game as they look to get up and running against Iceland on Thursday.
Player of the match
with an average of 9.00
Squad number8Player nameGeyoro
Squad number20Player nameCascarino
Squad number11Player nameDiani
Squad number21Player namePeyraud-Magnin
Squad number22Player namePérisset
Squad number9Player nameKatoto
Squad number6Player nameToletti
Squad number5Player nameTounkara
Squad number7Player nameKarchaoui
Squad number3Player nameRenard
Squad number14Player nameBilbault
Squad number13Player nameBacha
Squad number15Player nameDali
Squad number12Player nameMalard
Squad number17Player nameBaltimore
Squad number18Player nameSarr
Squad number10Player nameGirelli
Squad number4Player nameGalli
Squad number17Player nameBoattin
Squad number6Player nameGiugliano
Squad number18Player nameCaruso
Squad number5Player nameLinari
Squad number11Player nameBonansea
Squad number20Player namePiemonte
Squad number13Player nameBartoli
Squad number1Player nameGiuliani
Squad number16Player nameDi Guglielmo
Squad number2Player nameBergamaschi
Squad number3Player nameGama
Squad number19Player nameGiacinti
Squad number8Player nameRosucci
Squad number7Player nameSimonetti
- 7KarchaouiSubstituted forBaltimoreat 88′minutes
- 8GeyoroSubstituted forDaliat 67′minutes
- 11DianiSubstituted forBachaat 78′minutes
- 9KatotoSubstituted forSarrat 77′minutes
- 20CascarinoSubstituted forMalardat 67′minutes
- 19Mbock Bathy
- 3GamaBooked at 66mins
- 17BoattinBooked at 16mins
- 4GalliSubstituted forRosucciat 45′minutes
- 6GiuglianoSubstituted forSimonettiat 45′minutesBooked at 52mins
- 18CarusoSubstituted forPiemonteat 74′minutes
- 10GirelliSubstituted forGiacintiat 58′minutes
- 11BonanseaSubstituted forDi Guglielmoat 81′minutes
- 16Di Guglielmo
- Rebecca Welch
Match ends, France 5, Italy 1.
Second Half ends, France 5, Italy 1.
Attempt saved. Martina Piemonte (Italy) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Flaminia Simonetti with a cross.
Corner, Italy. Conceded by Wendie Renard.
Attempt missed. Ouleymata Sarr (France) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Sandy Baltimore with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Flaminia Simonetti (Italy) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Valentina Giacinti.
Substitution, France. Sandy Baltimore replaces Sakina Karchaoui.
Attempt missed. Selma Bacha (France) left footed shot from very close range misses to the left. Assisted by Melvine Malard with a cross following a fast break.
Attempt blocked. Martina Piemonte (Italy) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Lisa Boattin (Italy) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Valentina Giacinti.
Attempt blocked. Valentina Giacinti (Italy) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Martina Piemonte.
Foul by Ève Périsset (France).
Lisa Boattin (Italy) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Italy. Lucia Di Guglielmo replaces Barbara Bonansea.
Aïssatou Tounkara (France) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Valentina Giacinti (Italy).
Corner, Italy. Conceded by Sakina Karchaoui.
Substitution, France. Selma Bacha replaces Kadidiatou Diani.
Substitution, France. Ouleymata Sarr replaces Marie-Antoinette Katoto.
Goal! France 5, Italy 1. Martina Piemonte (Italy) header from very close range to the top left corner. Assisted by Lisa Boattin with a cross.