Italians cruise past Dutch for Nations League third place

June 18 – The Netherlands are no match for the European elite. After shipping four goals against Croatia in the last four, the Nations League hosts also lost the third-place match 3-2 against Italy. 

The Dutch rallied after a dramatic first half, conceding twice in the first 20 minutes, but there was no coming back when Federico Chiesa restored Italy’s two-goal advantage on the counter in the 73rd minute and the Azzurri claimed third place.

Italy manager Roberto Mancini rang the changes fielding seven new players from the 2-1 semi-final defeat against Spain and the Italians got off to a flying start with Federico Dimarco’s powerful strike opening the score after Giacomo Raspadori teed him up with a backheel.

On the left, Dimarco left the Dutch confused with neither Denzel Dumfries or Donyell Malen picking him up. In the 20th minute, Davide Frattesi doubled Italy’s lead with a simple finish from inside the box. The midfielder had a goal ruled out against Spain, but in Enschede, he essentially decided the match against the flat hosts.

The Netherlands have conceded seven goals within the first ten minutes in 24 games under Ronald Koeman, but they fought back in the second as the Dutch manager made three attacking substitutions.

Steven Bergwijn pulled one back but Chiesa’s goal left Oranje with a mountain to climb. A late strike by Giorginio Wijnaldum lifted Dutch hopes, but nine minutes of added time were not enough to force extra time for the second time in four days.

The defeat is a blow to Koeman, who had hoped to end the season on a high. He has suffered three defeats in four matches since taking over from Louis Van Gaal after the World Cup and all of them came at the hands of European powers – France, Croatia and on Sunday Italy.

It’s a signal that the Dutch are nowhere near rejoining Europe’s best and their main focus will be to navigate the Euro 2024 qualifiers with success. They face Ireland and Greece next in September.

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