Italy claimed the consolation bronze medals at the Nations League finals, and added to a disappointing week for hosts the Netherlands, as it edged the Dutch 3-2 in Sunday’s third place playoff tie at the Twente Stadium.
Federico Dimarco thrashed the ball home at the far post in the sixth minute and Davide Frattesi doubled the score from in front of goal in the 20th minute to give Italy a comfortable halftime lead.
But the Dutch launched a concerted second half comeback, making three attacking changes at the break, laying siege to Italy’s goal and seeing Steven Bergwijn pull a goal back in the 68th minute.
Federico Chiesa restored the two goal advantage at the end of a 73rd minute counterattack but there was an exciting conclusion as Georginio Wijnaldum got a second for the Dutch in the 89th. But even though nine minutes of stoppage time was added on, Italy held out under home pressure for victory.
Italy made a quick start as it put together a sequence of quick passes with Giacomo Raspadori backheeling the ball to Dimarco for a thunderous finish.
The shock of the goal silenced the home fans and there was hardly any noise 14 minutes later when a fortunate rebound fell for Frattesi to score, as he chested the ball down before squeezing it home.
The transformed Dutch side tested Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the second half. He made an impressive block to deny Cody Gakpo, who had missed a glaring first half chance.
Gakpo did contribute, however, as he set up Bergwijn for the home side’s first goal, with the substitute showing composure as he dragged the ball from his right to left foot before rifling home.
Five minutes later Chiesa broke from inside his own half down the left flank and squeezed his shot inside the far post as the Dutch were caught out pushing up in search of a second goal.
Wijnaldum’s late goal renewed hopes of a comeback but it was not to be for the Dutch, who had high hopes of home success in the tournament but were beaten 4-2 in extra time by Croatia in Wednesday’s first semi-final.
Italy lost to a last-minute goal in its semi-final against Spain on Thursday. Croatia and Spain contest the final in Rotterdam later on Sunday.
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