The Liverpool forward netted the decisive goal with just over ten minutes left to play in a game that had been edged by the Dutch. However, for all their dominance in possession the Netherlands failed to demonstrate a cutting edge in front of goal and we’re made to pay for it.
The Dutch dominated much of the first half with Adam Maher striking the woodwork from a freekick within the opening five minutes. The AZ Alkmaar midfielder came close again before the 20 minute mark but couldn’t connect with Kevin Strootman’s scuffed shot to turn the ball goalwards.
Cor Pot’s Netherlands side continued to control the play, with Maher and Strootman particularly impressive in the centre of midfield, although a lack of cutting edge in front of goal hindered the Oranje’s efforts.
But it was the Azzurri that came closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes, with Ciro Immobile surging on the counter attack after good play from Lorenzo Insigne, but the Italian forward saw his shot saved by the legs of Jeroen Zoet.
After the break Italy tightened up their game and pressed the Netherlands more intensely in an effort to unsettle their passing style.
Subsequently the Dutch struggled to create the same sort of opportunities in front of goal, forced to live off scraps from wide positions, with Georgino Wijnaldum the focus of much of the Netherlands’ attacking impetus.
And indeed the strategy continued to work, with Liverpool striker Borini netting with just over ten minutes of regular time remaining, taking a touch and turning past Mike Van der Hoorn before slotting the ball under the advancing Zoet.
The Netherlands brought on Leroy Fer to try and force an equalizer but Italy continued to stifle the play and nullify the opposition threat.
However, Fer was afforded one opportunity in the penalty area, rising highest to meet Maher’s corner kick but his header was directed straight at Bardi, much to the frustration of Pot on the sidelines.
As a result Italy kept hold of their lead to seal victory and secure their place in the final against the reigning champions Spain.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Lorenzo Insigne, Italy – Over indulgent on the ball at times, but he was the spark in the Italian frontline. An extremely technical player and full of ideas, he was the man Italy looked to most often for inspiration.
NETHERLANDS: Zoet 5, Blind 6, Martins Indi 6, De Vrij 6, Van Rhijn 5, Strootman 7, Maher 8, Van Ginkel 5, John 5, De Jong 5, Wijnaldum 6. Subs: Van der Hoorn 4, Dapey 5, Fer N/A.
ITALY: Bardi 6, Regini 6, Caldirola 6, Bianchetti 6, Donati 8, Isigne 8, Verratti 6, Rossi 6, Florenzi 6, Immobile 6, Borini 7. Subs: Gabbiadini 6, Sansone N/A,, Crimi N/A.
- Sports & Recreation
- Fabio Borini
- Adam Maher