Italy come from behind to beat Netherlands
ROME—First half goals from Eder and Leonardo Bonucci helped Italy overcome managerless Holland to continue their flawless start to 2017.
Having beaten Albania 2-0 in their World Cup Qualifier in Palermo on Friday, this friendly gave Italian manager Gian Piero Ventura the opportunity to give some of his squad’s younger players a chance to shine.
Most notably he handed AC Milan’s teenage goalkeeping sensation, Gigi Donnarumma, his international debut.
However, the 18 year-old’s first action of the game was to pick the ball out of the net after Alessio Romagnoli turned Quincy Promes’ deflected shot into his own goal to give the Dutch the lead.
Holland’s joy was short lived as they failed to defend what looked to be an innocuous,floated free-kick. A poor headed clearance fell to Eder and the Inter Milan man restored parity by driving the ball past Dutch keeper Jeroen Zoet from outside the area.
In an entertaining first half, both sides had chances to take the lead but it was Italy who went in front through Leonardo Bonucci. Zoet couldn’t hold onto Romagnoli’s headed effort from a corner and a grateful Bonucci crashed home the rebound from short range.
Despite many second half changes neither side managed to get into a rhythm and opportunities were scarce.
Several excellent saves from Donnarumma continued to frustrate the Dutch, and despite the introduction of veteran Wesley Sneijder, the Italians held on to win 2-1.
The result was more bad news for the Dutch who have slumped to fourth place in Qualification Group A after their most recent disastrous defeat to Bulgaria. Danny Blind was consequently fired from his role as head coach and Fred Grim given the caretaker job as they look to line up a replacement.
The Italians meanwhile are faring better in their quest for qualification and lie second in Group F, level on points with leaders Spain.
This result gave Ventura much to be happy about and proclaimed that Italy would be “the revelation of the World Cup.”
The Italian told Gazzetta dello Sport, "Winning tonight was important for the image that we're trying to build and the mentality that we're developing.”
"We showed the team spirit, the ability to fight and to suffer, and we got the result."
"This victory helps us to rise in the rankings as well. I am sure that this is a group that is growing.
"This is a team that will be the revelation of the World Cup in Russia if we get there."
Italy will not be in action until they face Uruguay in a friendly before their next qualification game against Liechstenstein.