May 20 – The Netherlands resoundingly beat Italy 4-2 in the final of the U-17 European Championship in Ireland to retain their European crown after emphatically dominating the first half to take an unassailable 3-0 lead.
If the first two goals from the Dutch youngsters had an element of fortune – Sontje Hansen and Naoufal Bannis both scored in the rebound – the third strike left little to the imagination with Iaan Maatsen’s firm shot from outside the box finding the bottom left corner on the stroke of half-time.
The 3-0 scoreline was a just reward for the dominant Dutch, but Maatsen’s late goal sparked an Italian fightback after the interval and Lorenzo Colombo pulled one back for the Italians who squandered multiple chances before Naci Unuvar broke Italy’s resistance with a low shot in the 70th minute to restore Netherland’s three-goal advantage. In the 89th minute Colombo scored a second for Italy with a superb shot following a poor clearance from the Dutch goalkeeper, but Italy were left to rue their missed opportunities.
“This is something we have been working towards in the past three years,” said Dutch coach Peter van der Veen. “If it can end that way…that is really indescribable. This is something the boys won’t forget for the rest of their lives.”
It’s the fourth time that the Netherlands win the U-17 European Championship. Last year they defeated Italy after a penalty shoot out in the final. The Dutch had eliminated Spain 1-0 in the semi-finals while the Italians edged neighbours France 2-1. The last four also qualified for the U-17 World Cup later this year, alongside Hungary who defeated Belgium on penalties in a play-off to secure their berth for Brazil.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600939065labto1600939065ofdlr1600939065owedi1600939065sni@o1600939065fni1600939065