World Football - Italy strike late for draw with Dutch

Friendly, Amsterdam ArenA - Netherlands 1 (Lens 33) Italy 1 (Verratti 90)

World Football - Italy strike late for draw with Dutch

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Marco Verratti (back-C) is congratulated by teammate Alessandro Diamanti (R) next to Alessandro Florenzi (L) and Ignazio Abate (R) after he scored during the friendly football match between The Netherlands and Italy at the Amsterdam Arena (AFP)

Marco Verratti’s stoppage time equaliser earned Italy a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands at the Amsterdam ArenA.

The Netherlands have never won an international friendly against Italy but looked to be on course for victory after Jeremain Lens’ 33rd minute opener - but Verratti spoiled the party one minute into injury time to secure lacklustre Italy a draw.

Netherlands boss Louis Van Gaal fielded a youthful side, with Daley Blind and Ola John both making their debut, while Italy manager Cesare Prandelli paired Mario Balotelli with new Milan team-mate Stephan El Shaarawy.

The Netherlands enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and grew in stature from there, forcing Gianluigi Buffon into the first save of the evening after 18 minutes.

Robin Van Persie set Lens free on the right, the forward then fired in a low cross met by Adam Maher but Buffon was on hand to keep the 19-year-old’s low shot out with his legs.

Buffon then produced another smart save to bat away Maher's shot on the turn, while the veteran Italian shot stopper kept out Kevin Strootman’s shot soon after.

Italy began to show signs of life on the half-hour, with Andrea Pirlo picking out Balotelli, but the former Manchester City man saw his quick-fire shot whistle wide of Tim Krul’s post.

But the Netherlands deservedly took the lead soon after when Italy failed to clear a deep cross from the right and, after Maher's shot from the edge of the box was blocked, Lens produces a fine bit of skill to work a yard of space and rifle past Buffon.

The home side continue to dominate possession after the break, with Strootman’s 25-yard shot drifting just wide and Buffon beating away Lens' powerful effort with a strong hand.

The Oranje should have put the game to bed with two minutes left on the clock when Maher slid a lovely disguised pass to Dirk Kuyt but the former Liverpool man fired his tame shot straight at Buffon.

Italy failed to threaten throughout the second half until the final few minutes when Ignazio Abate delivered a pin-point cross which Pablo Osvaldo contrived to head back across goal.

But Prandelli’s side grabbed an unlikely equaliser with full-time looming when Verratti exchanged a neat one-two with Alberto Gilardino in the box before lifting a cool shot over Krul.


Adam Maher (Netherlands): A threat from midfield throughout and unlucky not to get on the score sheet.


NETHERLANDS: Krul 7, Janmaat 6, De Vrij 6, Martins Indi 7, Blind 7, Clasie 5, Maher 8, Strootman 7, John 6, Lens 8, Van Persie 7. Subs: De Guzman 6, Robben 7, Kuyt 5, Van Rhijn 6.

ITALY: Buffon 7, Abate 6, Astori 5, Barzagli 6, Santon 6, De Rossi 5, Pirlo 6, Montolivo 5, Candreva 6, Balotelli 5, El Shaarawy 6. Subs: Diamanti 6, Florenzi 6, Verratti 8, Osvaldo 5, Gilardino 7, Ranocchia 6


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