France got their UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 campaign off to the perfect start at the New York Stadium in Rotherham as Corinne Diacre’s side put aside their pre-tournament troubles to thrash Italy 5-1 in their opening game in Group D.
Les Bleues had previously never been beyond the quarter-final of this tournament, and came into the competition as one of the favourites.
Despite that, it was Italy who should’ve been ahead early on, but Barbara Bonansea’s effort was well saved by the outstretched leg of Pauline Peyraud Magnin in the France goal.
Unfortunately for the Azzurre, that was as good as it got for them in the first period, Les Bleues made the most of Italy’s narrow shape and poor defensive structure. They took the lead in the ninth minute, as Grace Geyoro punished Italy captain Sara Gama’s failed clearance to score an easy tap-in.
France doubled their lead just two minutes later, as yet another mistake from the Italians – this time a poor punch from goalkeeper Laura Giuliani – allowed Marie-Antoinette Katoto to score an easy tap-in from close range.
Then, Delphine Cascarino scored one of the goals of the tournament so far to put her nation 3-0 up in the 38th minute. The left-sided attacker cut inside on her favoured left foot, before lashing in a low powerful strike into the bottom corner.
Geyoro then put France 4-0 up two minutes later courtesy of an easy tap-in, as Giuliani made yet another goalkeeping error to wrongly rush off her line.
The French star then sealed a stunning hat-trick to put her country 5-0 up before half-time, once again finishing well from inside the box following a neat cut-back from Sandie Toletti.
Italy understandably went more defensive in the second half, and even found a late consolation goal, as substitute Martina Piemonte latched onto a deep cross to head in at the back post.
The result means France top Group D, and Les Bleues next face Belgium on Thursday.
TALKING POINT – WHAT A START TO THE TOURNAMENT FOR FRANCE
This was an unbelievable attacking performance by France, especially in the first half. Every time Les Bleues went forward, they looked like they were going to score. The scoreline could’ve easily been more. It must be said that a lot of French chances came becuase of poor defensive mistakes from Italy, but you have to beat what is in front of you.
Prior to the tournament, there were many issues and grumblings in the background, especially as Amandine Henry – who scored in Lyon’s Champions League final win over Barcelona – was omitted from the final squad.
However, for now, those issues have been put to bed and France could secure their qualification for the next stage of the tournament with a win over Belgium on Thursday.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – GRACE GEYORO
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was outstanding today for her country, and has given herself a great chance to compete for the golden boot at this tournament.
Her exploits in front of goal tonight made history, as she now becomes only the second French female player after Angélique Roujas to score three or more goals in a European championship match. Her instinctive finishing proved to be deadly this evening at the New York Stadium.
France: Peyraud Magnin 7, Perisset 6, Tounkara 7, Renard 8, Karchaoui 7, Geyoro 10, Bilbault 7, Toletti 7, Diani 8, Katoto 7, Cascarino 8. Subs: Malard 6, Bacha 6, Dali 6, Baltimore 6, Sarr 6.
Italy: Giuliani 4, Boattin 7, Linari 5, Gama 4, Bartoli 5, Caruso 6, Giugliano 6, Galli 6, Bonansea 6, Girelli 6, Bergamaschi 6. Subs: Simonetti 6, Rosucci 6, Piemonte 7, Di Guglielmo 6, Giacinti 6.
4’ – KEY SAVE! – Italy should be 1-0 up here at the New York Stadium! France look shaky at the back, and the ball drops to Bonansea as the attacker reigns down on the danger area. She then goes for goal from inside the area, but her shot is straight at Peyraud Magnin. Despite that, Peyraud Magnin still has a difficult save to make, and gets the ball over the crossbar with an outstretched leg!
9’ – GOAL! (Grace Geyoro) – France take an early lead despite chances at both ends! In the end, it is poor defending from Italy’s point of view! Diani does well to completely beat Boattin for pace, as the Italian defender dives in, but the French winger can still get her cross into the area. Gama fails to clear the first contact, and Geyoro is there to stroke the ball in!
12’ – GOAL! (Marie-Antoinette Katoto) – France hit a double salvo in quick time, but once again Italy will be kicking themselves. A long ball is played down the left wing for full-back Karchaoui to chase. She gets the cross in from the byline, and once again Gama gets a touch on it, but cannot clear. Italy goalkeeper Giuliani palms the ball out right into the path of Katoto, and she has an easy finish to double the lead for her country.
38’ – GOAL! (Delphine Cascarino) – Goal of the tournament so far? Cascarino gets the goal that she deserves tonight. She cuts inside on her left foot outside the area, before arrowing in a powerful low shot from 20-yards into the bottom corner. What a strike!
40’ – GOAL! (Grace Geyoro) – The rout gets worse for Italy as France score twice in a matter of minutes. Geyoro has her brace! Giuliani makes another howler as she came off her line to challenge Geyroro, but the French midfielder has an easy tap-in.
44’ – GOAL! (Grace Geyoro) – Geyoro has a sensational hat-trick! Italy are getting demolished here and France have five before half-time. Geyoro lays the ball off for Toletti to make the run on the outside for the cross. The midfielder then cuts it back for Geyoro, and she finishes well again beyond Giuliani!
76′ – GOAL! (Martina Piemonte) – The forward, who has just come on, heads in at the far post from a looped cross by Boattin down the left, out-jumping Karchaoui in the process before slotting the ball in past Peyraud Magnin.