The Netherlands and Italy settled for a 1-1 draw in Turin on Monday night. The Dutch equaliser came late in the game and defender Nathan Ake’s header represented the Netherlands' first goal on Italian soil in 90 years.
Missing out on this year’s World Cup in Russia, the two sides meeting in the Allianz Stadium were playing their final international match of the season. And it showed, particularly during the first half, when Italy quickly gained the upper hand against a lacklustre Netherlands team. However, Roberto Mancini’s men were unable to convert their superiority into goals.
His Oranje counterpart Ronald Koeman had picked Club Brugge centre midfielder Ruud Vormer to make his debut in the starting line-up, which also featured Liverpool stars Virgil van Dijk and Giorginio Wijnaldum. And it was Vormer who prevented a certain opening goal for Italy by clearing the ball from the goal-line just minutes before the half-time whistle. Vormer’s header was one of the Dutch highlights of the first period, which saw a handful of chances for the hosts and only a single opportunity for the guests.
Half a dozen substitutions
With Daryl Janmaat replacing right-back Hans Hateboer, the Netherlands stepped up a gear in the second half, creating two chances in the first 15 minutes. The best effort came on the hour when Tonny Vilhena volleyed a Vormer cross just one meter over the bar.
Seven minutes later, two Italian substitutes launched a successful counter-attack with Federico Chiesa teeing up Simone Zaza who outwitted Van Dijk and put the ball past goalkeeper Jasper Cillesen.
Italy were down to ten men in the 70th minute when Domenico Criscito was shown a red card for fouling Ryan Babel on the edge of the penalty box. Koeman responded with two double substitutions, marking the start of a belated Dutch offensive.
With just two minutes before the end of regular playing time, one of the substitutes, Bournemouth defender Nathan Aké, headed in the equaliser to salvage a draw. Two minutes later, Aké was close to scoring a second goal after a clever cross from Memphis Depay, but he just failed to touch the ball by a couple of inches.