Donny Van de Beek’s equaliser rescues Netherlands from more Nations League horror after an early scare from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Italy could have caused question marks over the sides Nations League qualification. Pellegrini had originally put the Italian’s ahead early in the first half with a calm finish past goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, but saw his goal cancelled out by Manchester United new boy Donny Van de Beek just 9 minutes later after Netherlands first real attempt on goal. The second half very much end to end as both sides needed a win to try gain advantage in their very tight Nations League Group with just both sides dropping behind Poland who top the group after their win against Bosnia.
Italy had the first attempt just 40 seconds after the whistle when the Italian forwards found themselves in behind the Dutch back line, but Lorenzo Pellegrini’s tame effort was easily saved by goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. The Netherlands side looked lacking confidence, this a side that hadn’t scored a goal in their last three national matches before tonight despite their star-studded attacking options. The Italians had set a very aggressive tone in the first half with tactical fouls all around the pitch. Italy broke the deadlock in the 16th minute through Lorenzo Pellegrini, an inch perfect pass from Nicolo Barella through the Dutch defence and Pellegrini slotted it coolly past the goalkeeper to deepen the Netherlands Nations league woes. Netherlands almost found themselves two down before the 25th minute when they were at 6’s and 7’s at the back allowing ,Lazio striker, Ciro Immobile a chance to open his body up and produce a good stop by Cillessen in goal. That seemed to have shaken Netherlands a little as there first real venture into the box ended with a goal and an equaliser. Pinball in the box as Memphis Depay took a snapshot which ricocheted and fell to Donny Van de Beek, who smashed it high into the corner of the net for 1-1. Italy continued to threaten with D’Ambrosio and Pellegrini having efforts which Cillessen was equal to making two good stops at his near posts. Anthony Taylor brought a very fast paced and lively first half to and end after 2 minutes of added time.
Italy got the second half back underway. Marco Verratti committed a foul and the Netherlands players furious he wasn’t sent off after receiving a yellow card in the first half, the referee let him off this time. Netherlands started the second half much better with nice play between Liverpool teammates Van Dijk and Wijnaldum ended with the latter taking a shot which caused a good defensive block from D’Ambrosio to save a certain goal. Another challenge by Verratti caused more uproar from the Dutch players as he fouled goal scorer Van de Beek on the halfway line as Netherlands were breaking. Memphis Depay brought out an outstanding save from Gianluigi Donnarumma as he cut inside on his right foot and fired a powerful effort towards goal which was finger-tipped away by the Italian keeper. A minute later down the other end, Hans Hateboer found himself struggling and allowed Immobile in behind, but his shot was straight at Cillessen, so unlike him. This spiked a double change from Italy in the 55th minute with Marco Verratti replaced by Manuel Locatelli and Federico Chiesa coming off for, PSG’s new signing, Moise Kean. Netherlands seemed to grow into the game in the second half and looked much more positive with the ball with Frenkie De Jong and Van de Beek seeing a lot more of it. The game was very much back and forth for the last 30 minutes with both sides pushing for a winner to try get valuable points in a very tight Nations League group. The third Italy change saw goal scorer Lorenzo Pellegrini’s night come to an end and Alessandro Florenzi replace him in the 73rd minute. The first Dutch change saw Joel Veltman replace Daley Blind at wing back in the 75th minute. The Netherlands defence had been resilient all night after the early goal with Cillessen making save after save to deny the Italians. D’Ambrosio received a yellow card for arguing with referee Taylor and will now be suspended for Italy’s next game against Poland which could be crucial with the way the group is shaping up. Italy putting in cross after cross asking questions of the Netherlands back line that kept resilient and dealt with every ball. Netherlands made their second change as the three minutes of added time was shown by the fourth official, with Ryan Babel coming on for Memphis Depay. Anthony Taylor brought the game to an end at 1-1 with a disappointing result for both sides as they now fall behind Poland in their group with only 2 match days left.
Italy: Donnarumma 6, D’Ambrosio 6, Bonucci 6, Chiellini 7, Spinazzola 5, Barella 7, Verratti 5, Jorginho 5, Pellegrini 7, Immobile 5, Chiesa 5 (Subs: Locatelli 6, Kean 6, Florenzi 5)
Netherlands: Cillessen 8, Hateboer 5, De Vrij 6, Van Dijk 6, Ake 7, Blind 5, F De Jong 7, Van de Beek 7, Wijnaldum 5, Depay 5, L De Jong 5 (Subs: Veltman 6, Babel 5)
Man of the Match: Jasper Cillessen