The Netherlands secured a 1-1 draw against Italy in the UEFA Nations League earlier today to hand newly appointed manager Frank de Boer his first point in the competition. Both teams approached the game with an attacking mindset and created several chances throughout the game.
The stalemate sees Italy drop to second place in Group 1 of the UEFA Nations League table, with the Netherlands only a point behind in third place. Poland secured a victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina and surprisingly lead the group at the moment.
The game got off to a frenetic start as both Italy and the Netherlands were able to exploit spaces on the flanks to put crosses into the penalty area. Italy took the lead with a brilliantly worked goal as Nicolo Barella threaded the eye of the needle to find Lorenzo Pellegrini, who made no mistake with his finish.
The Italians continued to create chances against an inexplicably high Netherlands back-line. The Dutch hit back before the half-hour mark, however, with Frenkie de Jong and Daley Blind combining to hand Memphis Depay the ball in a dangerous area. Donny van de Beek took full toll of the ensuing chaos to equalise for the Netherlands.
The Netherlands grew in confidence after their goal and started to grow into the game. Luuk de Jong had a few excellent chances in Italy's penalty area but failed to make the most of his headers.
The Netherlands started the second half on a positive note as Frenkie de Jong took control of the midfield and orchestrated several Dutch forays into the final third. Memphis Depay looked threatening and forced Donnarumma into an excellent save.
Ciro Immobile had a golden opportunity to put Italy ahead at the hour-mark but surprisingly failed to get the ball past Jasper Cillessen and into the back of the net. The introduction of Alessandro Florenzi and Moise Kean gave Italy a cutting edge towards the end of the game. The Azzurri were unable to find a winner, however, as both sides shared spoils at the end of an entertaining game.
#5 Flop - Hans Hateboer (Netherlands)
Hans Hateboer was picked ahead of Denzel Dumfries against Italy and did not do his selection any justice on the night. The Atalanta full-back offered precious little in the final third and often cut a hapless figure in his own half as Italy identified his flank as their primary target.
Hateboer lost Pellegrini in the build-up to Italy's opening goal and was regularly caught out of position as the Azzurri exploited the Netherlands' high defensive line. The right-back nearly cost his side another goal as he allowed Immobile a free run at Jasper Cillessen in the second half.
The Atalanta star was also involved in a duel with Leonardo Spinazzola and was consistently beaten for pace by most of Italy's attacking players. Hateboer did himself no favours with his performance and may well find himself down the pecking order in Frank de Boer's squad.
#4 Hit - Nicolo Barella (Italy)
Nicolo Barella's performance in the first 15 minutes of the game stunned the Netherlands into submission. The Inter Milan star took the midfield by storm and created several chances for his side as Italy looked to exploit the space in the final third.
Barella's creativity and persistence ultimately bore fruit as he put the ball on a platter for Lorenzo Pellegrini with an exquisite pass that resulted in Italy taking the lead.
The 23-year-old also won the ball for Italy on several occasions and occupied a wide position in the second half. Nicolo Barella was arguably Italy's best player on the day and gave an excellent account of himself against the Netherlands.