Donny van de Beek scored his first Netherlands goal in a 1-1 draw with Italy that saw both teams lose ground to Poland in Nations League Group A1.
Lorenzo Pellegrini polished off a lovely move to put Italy in front in Bergamo on Wednesday, before Manchester United midfielder Van de Beek opened his Oranje account on his 14th international appearance.
Neither side was able to find a winner in the second half, with Roberto Mancini’s men extending their unbeaten run to 19 games – 16 in competitive matches – and denying Frank de Boer a first victory in charge of the Netherlands.
Poland now sit in pole position to advance to the Nations League Finals following a 3-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, piling the pressure on Italy and the Netherlands.
Nicolo Barella scored the only goal when these teams met in Amsterdam in September and he laid on the opener for Pellegrini with a beautiful curling pass around the back of the defence following an exchange on the right with Federico Chiesa.
The Netherlands’ high line continued to make them look vulnerable but they drew level in the 25th minute when Van de Beek slammed into the top-right corner after getting in the way of an effort from Memphis Depay.
Luuk de Jong steered a tame header wide from a glorious position as De Boer’s team gained a foothold in the game, though they still needed a good save from Jasper Cillessen to keep out Danilo D’Ambrosio before half-time.
Gianluigi Donnarumma produced a stunning stop to deny Depay in the 55th minute and Ciro Immobile was unable to punish the visitors 94 seconds later when he failed to beat Cillessen in a one-on-one situation after an error from Hans Hateboer.
It proved to be the last solid opening of the game, with impressive last-ditch defending from both teams ensuring the spoils were shared at the end of a disappointing second period.
What does it mean? Twists and turns to come
With the spoils being shared in Bergamo, Poland took full advantage to take control of Group A1. Robert Lewandowski scored twice in their win to ensure his team went a point clear of Italy and two ahead of the Netherlands. A place in the semi-finals is now Poland’s to lose, though they face Italy and the Netherlands in their final two group games.
A bright spark
Depay said he hopes to retain Barcelona’s interest for the January transfer window by continuing to impress this season and was the Netherlands’ best player against Italy. His assist may have been fortuitous, but he was a persistent threat and created four chances for team-mates.
No joy for Immobile
Immobile wasted a great chance that could have sealed the three points for Italy and remains on 10 goals after 42 caps. He had 31 touches across the 90 minutes, fewer than any player to start for the Azzurri – including goalkeeper Donnarumma.
Italy will gear up for their final Nations League games by hosting Estonia in a friendly next month, while the Netherlands will face a far greater challenge in the form of Spain.
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