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France Puts 5 First-Half Goals Past Italy In Commanding Euro 2022 Win

We've gotten early glimpses of what makes England, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands favorites at Euro 2022, but the final fixture of the opening round of matches produced a clear frontrunner Sunday after France stormed to a 5-0 halftime lead on Italy — including a hat trick for midfielder Grace Geyoro — before comfortably seeing out the second 45 in a 5-1 victory at New York Stadium in Rotherham.

France was the heavy favorite to top Group D, but Italy — a quarterfinalist at the 2019 World Cup — figured to provide the sternest test with Iceland and Belgium showing their limitations during a 1-1 draw earlier in the day.

It took Geyoro nine minutes to get her first after some direct play out wide by Kadidiatou Diani forced an error from Italy captain Sara Gama. Geyoro was on-hand to punish the mistake. 

Less than three minutes later, Italy's defense fell apart and failed to track the run of French fullback Sakina Karchaoui. Karchaoui's cross was deflected and then parried by goalkeeper Laura Giuliani straight to the feet of Marie-Antoinette Katoto.

In the 38th minute, 25-year-old Lyon attacker Delphine Cascarino made it 3-0 with an unstoppable drive from 20 yards out.  

Geyoro got her second in the 40th-minute with a run from midfield that went untracked. Katoto laid it off, and the 25-year-old PSG midfielder drove into the area before dicing and rounding Giuliani with a swivel of the hips.  

There was still time for Geyoro to complete her hat trick in the first half with an excellently controlled half-volley from 12 yards out.

France's only blemish on the evening was the concession of a goal in the 76th minute. Left back Lisa Boattin provided the service and substitute Martina Piemonte got on the end of it.  

Group D action resumes Thursday with Italy playing Iceland in Manchester before France returns to Rotherham to play Belgium.

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