LONDON: Grace Geyoro netted a first-half hat-trick to help France thrash Italy 5-1 in their UEFA Women’s Euro opener. Belgium and Iceland drew 1-1 in the other Group D game.
France’s demolition job started early when Geyoro grabbed her first goal inside the opening 10 minutes and Marie-Antoinette Katoto made it two just three minutes later.
Nearly all of the first-half running – barring a couple of tame Italian attacks – came from France and they ended the half with three goals in eight minutes, including two more from Geyoro for the first hat-trick at the tournament.
Italy dug in after the break, while France could not keep up the brilliance which was on show in the first half and Martina Piemonte’s second-half consolation gave the Italian fans something to cheer.
Italy had the first opportunity in the opening minutes when Cristiana Girelli’s headed pass sent Barbara Bonansea through one-on-one but her effort was superbly saved by Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.
The tide soon shifted and a first spell of French dominance began shortly afterwards when Geyoro finished from close range to make it 1-0 in the ninth minute.
France soon had a second when Sakina Karchaoui saw her cross parried by goalkeeper Laura Giuliani into the path of Katoto and she could not miss from inside the area.
The relentless, efficient and bullish French attack showed no signs of letting up and moments after Delphine Cascarino had shanked wide with the goal gaping, she made up for it with a rifled effort from outside the area.
Les Bleues looked like they would score with every attack, this time Geyoro raced through on goal before sitting Giuliani down and rounding her to tap into an empty net.
Geyoro completed her first-half treble to put the game beyond any doubt before the half-time whistle with an emphatic volley past the helpless Giuliani.
Italy’s night threatened to get worse when captain Sara Gama was shown a red card by referee Rebecca Welch for a late challenge on Geyoro, only for the decision to be reduced to yellow by VAR.
With pride at stake in the second half, Italy certainly showed more and were rewarded for their efforts when substitute Piemonte looped in a header from inside the box, but the damage had already been done as France made it 15 straight wins.