France boss Corinne Diacre hailed a sizzling performance as Les Bleues trampled over Italy in Rotherham to start their Euro 2022 campaign with a 5-1 statement victory.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Grace Geyoro marked her 50th cap by becoming the first player to score a hat-trick in the first half of a Women’s European Championship match, and France led 5-0 at the break in the Group D clash.
Geyoro spoke of it being “a great collective effort from the team”, largely deflecting well-earned personal praise.
Diacre, whose squad selections faced scrutiny after she omitted France’s record scorer Eugenie Le Sommer and Champions League player of the match Amandine Henry, was glad to reflect on a job well done.
She was asked whether it had been the kind of start that France anticipated.
“No, even though we wanted to get off to a strong start in the first match,” Diacre said. “The players have done very well in their first game.”
France have now won their opener in each of the last five Women’s Euros tournaments. They were only the third side to score five or more goals in their opening game of an edition of the competition, after Norway in 1997 (5-0 v Denmark) and England in 2017 (6-0 v Scotland).
It was France’s biggest win at the Euros in their history and means they have equalled a team-best run of 11 wins in competitive games.
Still, few were talking up France’s chances heading into the tournament, with the likes of England, defending champions the Netherlands, and Spain getting the most attention. This was the kind of performance that might change a few minds.
There were aspects of France’s display that were not quite as glorious as their all-action early raids on Italy’s backline, with Diacre admitting the second-half display “was less good”, albeit crediting the opposition, saying: “The Italians brought a little more.”
She was told supporters had been chanting her name in Paris but said it was important to “stay vigilant… stay focused… stay humble”.
Italy head coach Milena Bertolini said she felt her side were overly stretched in the first half.
“Maybe we thought we could play it evenly, but we are not on a par with France in terms of physique, technique and intensity,” she said.