ROTHERHAM, England: Grace Geyoro scored a first half hat-trick as France made a dream start to the women's European Championship by thrashing Italy 5-1 in Group D at Rotherham's New York stadium on Sunday.
Italy were 5-0 down at the break on a warm evening in South Yorkshire as France turned on the style with the highest ever first half score at a women's Euros.
Midfielder Geyoro put Les Bleues ahead from close range in the ninth minute and Marie-Antoinette Katoto made it 2-0 three minutes later after goalkeeper Laura Giuliani palmed it straight to her.
The goal was Paris St Germain forward Katoto's 26th in 31 international appearances and she could have had another when she hit the post in the 16th as a confident France dominated possession on their way to topping the group.
France, who went through their qualifying group without conceding a goal but have yet to win a major women's tournament, were 3-0 up in the 38th when Delphine Cascarino lashed in a powerful strike.
Geyoro, making her 50th appearance for France, bagged her second in the 40th by beating two defenders and the goalkeeper before rolling the ball into an empty net and punching the corner flag with the goal upheld by VAR.
She then made Euros history with her hat-trick just before the halftime whistle, with France going off the boil in the second half and bringing on substitutes for all their goalscorers.
"We couldn't imagine losing like this but let's give France credit as well," said Italy coach Milena Bertolini.
"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."
Italy had risked being reduced to 10 players in the 64th when captain Sara Gama was shown a straight red for a high tackle on Geyoro, reduced to a yellow after a lengthy VAR review.
Substitute Martina Piemonte grabbed a consolation goal with a looping 76th minute header and Italy could have had a late second when Selma Bacha cleared off the line in stoppage time with goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin beaten.
The win was France's biggest in a women's Euro finals.