Group A1 remains wide open going into November’s fixtures after Italy and the Netherlands played out an entertaining draw in Bergamo, Donny van de Beek cancelling out Lorenzo Pellegrini’s early strike.
Match in brief
For a while it looked like it would be one-way traffic in Bergamo. Italy took the lead courtesy of Lorenzo Pellegrini on 16 minutes after a lovely Nicolò Barella through ball, and the Netherlands were on the ropes until Donny van de Beek provided a sucker punch.
From then on, with the Oranje growing into their unusual 5-3-2 system, the teams matched each other blow for blow in a highly watchable encounter. Usually so deadly, Ciro Immobile passed up the best opportunities as it somehow ended all square to leave Group A1 wide open, with Poland (seven points), Italy (six) and the Netherlands (five) all in contention.
Paolo Menicucci, Italy reporter
An extremely entertaining game in Bergamo, with both sides playing for three points from start to finish. Italy extend an unbeaten run that started after losing to Portugal in September 2018. They are now second in the group but victories over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Poland in their last two matches would certainly mean finishing top. Tonight they confirmed that they have enough quality to do it.
Derek Brookman, Netherlands reporter
The Dutch can take many positives from this. They finally scored under Frank de Boer, could conceivably have won, and emphatically showed that they can raise the level of their game when facing top-drawer opponents. Playing 3-5-2 is felt by many Dutch football aficionados to be heresy, but it suited them tonight and made sure they weren’t overrun in midfield.
Roberto Mancini, Italy coach: “It was a beautiful game, entertaining, a battle with both sides trying to win to the end. The Netherlands are a great side. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We attacked and I think we created more opportunities overall.”
Frank de Boer, Netherlands coach: “I wanted to play with five at the back so that my forwards didn’t have to keep chasing back with their overlapping players. Basically, it’s just a question of looking very rationally at the opponent and working out what we can offer in return.”
Lorenzo Pellegrini, Italy goalscorer: “There is a bit of regret because we feel that we had enough chances to win this game. After taking the lead, we could have killed the game by scoring a couple of more. The Netherlands, however, are also a great team and they played much better compared to the game in September.”
Virgil van Dijk, Netherlands captain: “We played really good football in spells. We were well organised, worked hard. Maybe in the second half we could have made more of our counters. It was a good performance that we can build on for the future.”
Frenkie de Jong, Netherlands midfielder: “We had to have a good plan. They had too much space in the previous game, so we made sure they didn’t get it this time. Maybe we should have taken more out of this encounter. We are still a good team.”
- Italy are unbeaten in their last 19 matches (W14 D5) and undefeated in 23 on home turf.
- Van de Beek’s goal was the Netherlands’ first in 326 minutes, ensuring the Oranje avoided a run of four games without a goal for the first time in their history.
- There have never been more than two goals in Italy’s UEFA Nations League matches.
- Netherlands are still looking for their first away win in the UEFA Nations League (D3 L2).
- Italy have not conceded more than one goal in any of their last 22 matches.
Italy: Donnarumma; D’Ambrosio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Verratti (Locatelli 56), Jorginho, Barella; Chiesa (Kean 56), Immobile, Pellegrini (Florenzi 73)
Netherlands: Cillessen; Blind (Veltman 77), Aké, Van Dijk, De Vrij, Hateboer; Wijnaldum, Frenkie de Jong, Van de Beek; Depay (Babel 90+2), Luuk de Jong
The Netherlands welcome bottom side Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday 15 November while second-placed Italy play host to leaders Poland.