Les Bleues didn’t have the time. Last major nation to compete in the Women’s Football Euro, Corinne Deacon’s players were getting impatient in their rural base camp in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, and were eager to do battle on Sunday. July 10, on the immaculate turf of New York Stadium in Rotherham (Great Britain).
And it felt, with French women who kicked off too early, before the end of the official countdown. Then it was the scoreboard’s turn to act up, not displaying the game timer. Whatever, it took less than a half-time for the Habs to bend the deal against Italy (5-1) yet announced as a potential scarecrow of group D.
Sixteen years almost to the day after the France-Italy of July 9, 2006 in the final of the Men’s World Cup – lost by the Blues on penalties – the French have not bothered to play with the nerves of their supporters . The reading of the match would have been so different if goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin had not stopped the game, leaving with the tip of her right foot like a handball player the point-blank shot from the Italian Barbara Bonan Sea (4e), while the score was still blank.
Touched by Grace
After this heat stroke, came the storm Grace Geyoro, author of a hat-trick and logically designated player of the match. Injured during the preparation, the resident of Paris-Saint-Germain returned just in time for this continental meeting. Marie Antoinette Katoto (12e) and Delphine Cascarino (38e) completed the scoreboard.
Little used during the 2019 World Cup, the 25-year-old midfielder confirms the weight she gained in the game in a club, in Paris, for several seasons. The number 8 knew how to accelerate when the game demanded it. The native of Kolwezi (Democratic Republic of the opponent) took advantage of great freedom in midfield to often find herself near the surface, as on the opener (9e), or on fourth base (40e).
“I managed to get a lot of chances, I was also served well by my teammates, whether in crosses or on deflections. I tried as much as possible to support the actions.” deciphered the player at a press conference, individual trophy placed on the desk.
Very expressive in her technical zone on each goal of her team and smiling at the end of the match, Corinne Deacon handled the second degree at the microphone of TF1 at the end of the game: “She should be hurt more often,” joked the technician.
A goal and an assist for Katoto
The trio of Parisiennes was to their advantage, with a Kadidiatou Diani who was very restless on her right flank, tormenting the lateral Lisa Boattin on several occasions. Marie-Antoinette Katoto also weighed a lot with her back-to-goal throw-in game and her sharp calls. For her first match in a major tournament, the number 9 – who knows she is eagerly awaited – scored a goal and delivered an assist.
After two warm-up matches won hands down against very weak opponents – Cameroon and Vietnam – France was able to count on major comebacks before the game, such as those of captain Wendie Renard, full-back Sakina Karchaoui and therefore of Grace Geyoro. The big surprise came from the central defense, since Corinne Deacon did without the services of Griedge Mbock in favor of Aïssatou Tounkara.
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And if these river successes during the pre-tournament were considered insignificant in view of the weakness of the opposition, this victory is a marker, against a team which saw itself as having more chances of upsetting France.
“We expected a tighter result and a more contested game” recognized the Italian coach, Milena Bertolini. “France already has a lot of experience with its young players who are already very strong. Italy will need a lot of courage” yet warned the ex-international Patrizia Panico for The world outside the game.
A big step towards the quarters
The third nation in the FIFA rankings shone against a country driven by an ambitious game philosophy. The Transalpines have thus always tried to revive the ball properly, based on short passes, and could have made Corinne Deacon’s troops doubt in the event of an opener. The “Azzurre” remained on a promising draw against Spain on 1er July (1-1). But the absence of Valentina Cernoia – positive for Covid –, a real metronome of the Italian environment, was felt.
If the French supporters were scattered all over the place among the 8,571 spectators in the stands of New York Stadium, the Habs did not scatter, despite a less controlled end to the game. Led by five goals at the break, the Italians had the merit of saving the honor thanks to Martina Piemonte (76e) and could have further reduced the gap at the end of the game, if Selma Bacha then the doorwoman Peyraud-Magnin had not made two saves. “The players are human and inevitably the second period was less good” summarizes Corinne Deacon.
With a comfortable goal difference, (+4), a new victory against Belgium on July 14 – held in check against Iceland (1-1) –, would ensure on the day of the national holiday a qualification for Les Bleues for the quarter-finals.