Italy earned a seventh straight win on their travels as Nicolò Barella's first-half header gave them victory over the Netherlands in Amsterdam.
Match in brief
The visitors' high press paid dividends as they dominated possession in an impressive first-half showing. Nicolò Zaniolo, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne all went close before Nicolò Barella made a clever run to head in a Leonardo Spinazzola cross in the culmination of a beautiful team move on the stroke of half-time. Italy remained comfortable after the break, although Donny van de Beek's shot tested Gianluigi Donnarumma before Immobile and Moise Kean shot wide. The Azzurri looked more dangerous, repeatedly finding space in and around the penalty area. Kean blazed over after rounding Jasper Cillessen in stoppage time.
Nicolò Barella headed the winnerGetty Images
Derek Brookman, Netherlands reporter: There was something of a Dutch renaissance in the second half, but in the end it was the Italians who proved to be the true artists. The repeated sight of Frenkie de Jong on the ball, palms spread in despair, showed how clinically the visitors shut down any options when Oranje tried to break forward. I've seldom seen them outplayed for so long at home and create so few chances.
Paolo Menicucci, Italy reporter: What a difference a few days can make! Italy looked short of energy and ideas in the 1-1 home draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday. They were a completely different side tonight as they dominated for most of the game in Amsterdam against the Netherlands. The midfield was particularly impressive: Jorginho orchestrating the game, debutant Manuel Locatelli playing like a veteran and the tireless Barella scoring the winner. Roberto Mancini can be more than satisfied with the result, but perhaps the performance will give him even more pleasure.
Roberto Mancini, Italy coach: "If you win 11 consecutive games, you have something – even if our opponents were not as good as the Netherlands side we faced tonight. We should have scored another goal at least, but I'm very satisfied with the performance and the personality of my players. To come to Amsterdam and play with this kind of mentality against such a strong side is never easy."
Giorgio Chiellini, Italy captain: "We prepared for the game really well and we have been playing at a high level for two years now. We played against a great team but we always tried to keep possession and impose our own game. We could have scored more goals and did well to defend as a team in the final minutes of the game when we had to suffer together. I'm happy after such a difficult year for me, with my injury."
Dwight Lodeweges, Netherlands interim coach: "We lost to a very good team who basically want to do the same things as we do, but they did them much better tonight. We didn't help each other enough in the first half. Just running very fast and working very hard is not enough. When we won possession of the ball, we were not fresh. The spaces were too big. Losing to a top opponent is not fun but it is a good chance to learn from it. We can still take a few more steps forward."
Virgil van Dijk, Netherlands captain: "They were hungrier and sharper. We couldn't press them, especially in the first half. The gaps were too big at times. We've been quite impressive over the last two-and-a-half years so one defeat, and one especially bad first half, shouldn't make us worry. Some of our players have come straight from their holidays and played their first two lots of 90 minutes over the past few days. We know we want to do better, but I'm not panicking at all."
Italy opened the scoring just before half-timeGetty Images
- The win stretched Italy's unbeaten run to 16 matches and means they have still never lost in Amsterdam (W3 D4).
- The Azzurri have scored in each of their last 13 games, although they have only netted four times in their last six UEFA Nations League encounters.
- Italy have conceded only twice in their last six away matches.
- Their opponents have breached their defence only three times in their previous five UEFA Nations League tests.
- None of Italy’s last five UEFA Nations League matches have contained more than two goals.
- The Netherlands have won one of their last 15 games against Italy (D5 L9).
Netherlands: Cillessen; Hateboer (Dumfries 70), Veltman, Van Dijk, Aké (L de Jong 81); De Roon, Van de Beek (Bergwijn 57), F de Jong; Wijnaldum, Depay, Promes
Italy: Donnarumma; D'Ambrosio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Locatelli (Cristante 81), Jorginho, Barella; Insigne (Chiesa 90), Immobile, Zaniolo (Kean 42)
Group A1 continues next month, with Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Netherlands and Poland vs Italy on Sunday 11 October.Source: uefa.com