A first half hat-trick from midfielder Grace Geyoro saw France to an emphatic 5-1 victory over Italy in their opening Euro 2022 group fixture at the New York Stadium on Sunday evening.
Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Delphine Cascarino were also on the scoresheet as France turned in an electric first half performance, before Martina Piemonte netted a late consolation for Italy.
The score line could have been oh so different for Italy had Barbara Bonansea found the back of the net when she raced clean through on goal inside five minutes, but goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin was on hand to save superbly with her feet.
The Italians would be made to rue their missed opportunity, and found themselves 2-0 down within 12 minutes. Kadidiatou Diani’s cross was not dealt with by the Italian backline and only cleared as far as Geyoro, who slammed home from close range to open the scoring.
Katoto began her bid for the Euro 2022 golden boot as she doubled France’s advantage. Wendie Renard sent Sakina Karchaoui scampering away down the left flank, her cross was parried into the path of Katoto by Laura Giuliani, and the French striker prodded home.
Delphine Cascarino netted the pick of the bunch on the 38 minute mark, arrowing a fabulous strike from range into the bottom corner.
Geyoro added her second minutes later, latching on to Katoto’s clever flick around the corner, rounding Laura Giuliani and slotting into an empty net.
The midfielder completed her hat-trick on the stroke of half time, winning possession back on the edge of the Italy box, before diverting Sandie Toletti’s cross into the bottom corner.
Things appeared to go from bad to worse for Italy in the second half as captain Sara Gama was given her marching orders for a high, thunderous challenge on Geyoro – but VAR intervened, and the red card was rescinded.
Italy netted a consolation with 14 minutes remaining, substitute Martina Piemonte drifting into the box and heading home Lisa Boattin’s floated delivery. France took their foot off the gas as the clock ticked down, but their statement opening win had already been sealed after their devastating first half display.
GK: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin – 7/10 Saved superbly with her feet to deny Bonansea inside the opening five minutes – which proved to be a game changing moment.
RB: Eve Perisset – 7/10 – Played a big part in France’s opening goal, eating up the grass with a positive carry forward from right back. Full of running.
CB: Aissatou Tounkara – 6/10 – Solid and steady in the first half. Looked a little more vulnerable as Italy improved in the second half.
CB: Wendie Renard – 7/10 – Sent Cascarino scurrying away in behind in the build up to France’s opener. Was able to switch the ball and dictate play from centre back with ease throughout. Lost track of Piemonte for Italy’s consolation.
LB: Sakina Karchaoui – 8/10 – Set up Katoto for France’s second with an adventurous burst forward from deep and fizzing delivery. Really dynamic and impressive.
CM: Charlotte Bilbault – 7/10 – France’s midfield three ran the show. Bilbaut was the midfield anchor, enabling Geyoro and Toletti to roam so effectively.
CM: Grace Geyoro – 10/10 – Fizzing with energy and running, timing her arrival into the box to perfection on multiple occasions and capping a tremendous individual display with a trio of well taken goals.
CM: Sandie Toletti – 7/10 – Energetic and dynamic as France’s midfield dominated proceedings.
RW: Kadidiatou Diani – 8/10 – Instrumental in France’s opener, skipping past left back Boattin and sending in a dangerous delivery. Terrorised the Italy backline all evening with her quick feet and creativity.
ST: Marie-Antoinette Katoto – 8/10 – Up and running for the tournament with a poacher’s finish, and set up Geyoro for France’s fourth with a fabulous first time pass around the corner.
LW: Delphine Cascarino – 9/10 – Got on the scoresheet with a scorching effort from range, an absolute thorn in the side of the Italy backline. Replaced after an hour after picking up a knock.
SUB: Kenza Dali – 6/10
SUB: Melvine Malard – 6/10
SUB: Selma Bacha – 6/10
SUB: Ouleymata Sarr – 6/10
SUB: Sandy Baltimore – 6/10
GK: Laura Giuliani – 4/10 – Should have done better with France’s second as she parried Cascarino’s cross into the path of Katoto. Otherwise largely let down by those in front of her.
RB: Elisa Bartoli – 3/10 – Lost track of Karchaoui in the build up to France’s second and was given the run around by Cascarino all evening.
CB: Sara Gama – 3/10 – The Italy backline had a torrid time of it up against France’s dynamic front three
CB: Elena Linari – 3/10 – Lost Katoto in the build up to France’s fourth and was pulled about by the France forward all evening.
LB: Lisa Boattin – 4/10 – Dived in and beaten too easily by Diani in the build up to France’s opener. Really struggled up against the trickery and directness of the French winger. Set up Italy’s consolation.
CM: Aurora Galli – 3/10 – Lost the run of Geyoro in the build up to France’s fourth and had a torrid time of it up against the dynamic French midfielder. Replaced at half time.
CM: Manuela Giugliani – 3/10 – Could not deal with the effervescent Geyoro. Replaced at half time.
CM: Arianna Caruso – 4/10 – Outclassed for much of the match by France’s classy midfield. Replaced with 17 minutes remaining.
FW: Valentina Bergamaschi – 5/10 – Left to feed off scraps, such was France’s dominance.
ST: Cristiana Girelli – 5/10 – Starved of service, unable to have an impact on proceedings.
FW: Barbara Bonansea – 5/10 – Drew a strong save from Peyraud-Magnin after racing clean through on goal inside five minutes with the scores level – it proved to be a crucial miss. Carried Italy’s biggest attacking threat.
SUB: Flaminia Simonetti – 5/10
SUB: Martina Rosucci – 5/10
SUB: Martina Piemonte – 6/10 – On the scoresheet with a smart header.
SUB: Lucia Di Guglielmo – 5/10
SUB: Valentina Giacinti – 5/10