The clash between two European powerhouses at the Women’s Euro 2022 saw a historic hat-trick as France dismantled Italy 5-0 in one emphatic half of football.

France came into this tournament surrounded by scandal and infighting with the omission of Lyon’s Champions League goal scorer Amandine Henry from the squad due to an alleged strained relationship with head coach Corinne Diacre, while other problems were said to involve PSG player Aminata Diallo, legal troubles and general disharmony in the team.

Les Bleues scored a quick first two goals in the Group D match-up in Rotherham when Grace Geyoro found the back of the net in the 9th minute and soon after Italy’s goalkeeper Laura Giuliani parried a deflected cross from Sakina Karchaoui in the 11th minute straight into the path of Marie-Antoinette Katoto, who slotted the ball calmly into the net. From a bad start, three more goals followed and it was all over for Italy before the whistle for the second-half had sounded.

Despite the margin of the victory, France head coach Corinne Diacre urged her team to continue remaining “vigilant” in the tournament.

“This is only the first of six steps that we set out, so we will rest up and go again,” she said.

“We are staying focused, we have our heads down and it’s only the first game, we have five others. We want to be vigilant.

“We wanted to show what we were made of from the first game and hats off to my players, they were performing strongly from the off.”

France had been on a dominant run of form and this win marked their 15th in a row, with their last defeat being in a friendly with world champions USA in April, 2021.

While both teams started with vigour and physically matched each other, Italy got the first opportunity to test the French goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud Magnin, but Barbara Bonansea’s shot was saved with her legs in the 3rd minute.

As the game progressed further, the French defence and goalkeeper were barely troubled by the Italian forward line despite starting the game so well in the opening minutes.

France’s Delphine Cascarino hit a thunderbolt in the 38th minute and then Geyoro again rounded the goalkeeper in the 39th minute to make it 4-0 before half-time, but she wasn’t done – getting her hat-trick seven minutes later to make it 5-0.

Geyoro is the first player to score a hat-trick before half-time but the fifth player to score a hat-trick in the Women’s Euro finals.

In the second half Italy rang in the changes to stop the rot, with Flaminia Simonetti and Valentina Giacinti subbed on in the early minutes.

Italy’s manager Milena Bertolini expressed her surprise at conceding five goals before half-time and assured everyone the result was something her team will learn from going forward.

“I did not expect to be trailing 5-0 at the break,” she said.

“We prepared the game different to how it panned out, I think the miss from Barbara actually got our hopes up that we could compete on an even footing and we can’t do that against France.

It’s a defeat that can teach us a lot of things and we can learn from this.

“There are a number of positives to emerge from this evening. We’ll go again with the attitude the girls showed after the break, because it’s not easy to go into the second half 5-0 down, but we were in danger of having a big debacle.

“It’s a defeat that can teach us a lot of things and we can learn from this.”

This game even had time for VAR when Italy’s captain Sara Gama was given a straight red card for fouling Geyoro, but had the red card rescinded when the on-field referee reviewed the incident and gave her a yellow.

Diacre also made changes and tried keeping her players fresh, bearing in mind they are playing Belgium in the next group match, with Kenza Dali and Melvine Malard coming on in the 66th minute.

Italy’s forward Martina Piemonte came on for Arianna Caruso in the 74th minute but then the substitute got on the scoresheet just four minutes later to make it 5-1 which lifted Le Azzurre.

France brought on Selma Bacha for Kadidiatou Diani in the 77th minute and Italy brought on Lucia Di Guglielmo for Barbara Bonansea in the 80th minute.

Le Azzurre put up a fight in the second half and made life difficult for the French team by attacking in huge numbers and defending as one but failed to make a dent in the French defence.

The last chance fell to France’s Bacha in the closing minutes of the second half but was missed by the young forward, but so did Italy with Flaminia Simonetti’s shot cleared off the line by Bacha in the 90th minute.

Italy will be playing Iceland on July 15, while Belgium will be hoping that they don’t make the same mistakes Italy did and get a mauling from France.

Main image screenshot courtesy Optus Sports.