France, and hat-trick scorer Grace Geyoro, both made history after putting five goals past Italy before half-time.
Article top media content
France produced a stunning performance to confirm themselves among the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 favourites as they began Group D with a 5-1 win against Italy, scoring all five goals before the break – including a hat-trick from Grace Geyoro.
9' Geyoro breaks deadlock
12' Katoto doubles advantage
15' Katoto heads against post
38' Cascarino swerving effort for third
40' Geyoro taps in her second
45' Geyoro completes hat-trick
76' Piemonte pulls one back
Match in brief: Fantastic France
Both teams pushed hard from the start and, in only the fourth minute, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin produced a brave save to deny Juventus club-mate Barbara Bonansea. But the breakthrough came at the other end as Kadidiatou Diani's cross was only half-cleared and Grace Geyoro, winning her 50th cap after overcoming a pre-tournament injury, slammed home the loose ball.
The second followed within three minutes through Marie-Antoinette Katoto, pouncing when Laura Giuliani could only parry Sakina Karchaoui's deflected centre. Italy were rocking and Katoto headed the ball against the post from close range.
The chances kept on coming as Diani spun, but somehow her cross eluded Delphine Cascarino. However, the Lyon winger was soon celebrating when she cut inside and sent in a swerving finish from distance. Then came two more from Geyoro, the first after a clever Katoto flick and the hat-trick goal following a smart one-two with Sandie Toletti.
Italy salvaged some pride in the second half and got a deserved consolation through substitute Martina Piemonte, looping in a header from a Lisa Boattin cross – and they almost conjured another to give the noisy Azzurre fans more reward for their enthusiasm.
Visa Player of the Match: Grace Geyoro (France)
"Excellent overall performance, effective both going forward and defensively. She had a big attacking impact with excellent runs forward and finishing of the highest quality."
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Vanessa Tomaszewski, France reporter
No one can doubt now that Les Bleues are among the favourites, their attacking power illustrated emphatically in the record-breaking first half. It should be said that Peyraud-Magnin made a big difference in the first minutes of the game by denying Bonansea. Italy left big gaps and they were exploited to the full by the Katoto-Cascarino-Diani trio and Geyoro's forward thrusts, the No8 making history with her first-half hat-trick. France slackened a bit in the last 15 minutes and allowed Italy to score, but overall they had an almost perfect game and seem unstoppable!
Vieri Capretta, Italy reporter
Nothing went well, except the reaction late on. France were better in every aspect of the game: physically, technically, tactically and in decision-making. They were dominant throughout the 90 minutes. Everyone in the Italy camp is convinced that the Azzurre's strength is the unity in the squad, so they'll need to show it in the next game.
Corinne Diacre, France coach: "We wanted to get off to a flying start in the first half and hats off to my players! We felt great synergy and we saw that in the first half. It's always good to have a great first game, but nothing is decided. We should savour this victory as the performance in the first half was so good."
Grace Geyoro, Visa Player of the Match: "Today I was able to convert a lot of the chances I got. I was helped by my team-mates with great crosses. I am satisfied with my performance, but it's collective work. I was just back from injury and I wanted to start strongly, and that was important to me."
Milena Bertolini, Italy coach: "Of course it's not the night we dreamed of, but we knew France are strong. We need to focus on the next games. We couldn't imagine losing like this, but let's give France credit as well. I told my players to come onto the pitch in the second half as if the game was 0-0; they did just that and it was not easy after that first half."
Cristiana Girelli, Italy forward: "It's not the start we wanted, but we can take the reaction in the second half to look ahead. We had a good chance early on; maybe it could have changed things. We knew France were strong. We had a blackout in the first 45 minutes. It's not the start we wanted."
Lisa Boattin, Italy defender: "Maybe it was the nerves that got to us at first. I don't like to talk about my individual performance; we win and lose as a team."
- This was France's biggest win in a Women's EURO final tournament, their previous best a 3-0 defeat of England in 2013.
- France became the first team to score five goals in the first half of a Women's EURO game.
- Geyoro scored the competition's maiden first-half hat-trick. It was also the first Women's EURO treble by a France player since Angélique Roujas in 1997.
- Italy's goal was the first France have conceded in the campaign, including qualifying, Les Bleues having previously scored 49 without response.
- France also beat Italy in the opening game of the previous finals in England, 2005, likewise hitting all their goals before half-time in a 3-1 win. However, Les Bleues (like the Azzurre) did not get through the group that year.
France: Peyraud-Magnin; Périsset, Tounkara, Renard, Karchaoui (Baltimore 87); Geyoro (Dali 67), Bilbault, Toletti; Diani (Bacha 77), Katoto (Sarr 77), Cascarino (Malard 67)
Italy: Giuliani; Bartoli, Gama, Linari, Boattin; Galli (Rosucci 46), Giugliano (Simonetti 46), Caruso (Piemonte 74); Bergamaschi, Girelli (Giacinti 58), Bonansea (Di Guglielmo 81)