Gli Azzurri defeat the Oranje in third-place final

De Grolsch Veste played host to the third-place final of the UEFA Nations League on Sunday, with Italy facing the Netherlands in Enschede. Despite scoring deep in stoppage time against Croatia, the Netherlands succumbed to defeat – while Italy’s loss to Spain ensured they’d be playing for a bronze medal rather than the trophy.

NED: Bijlow; Ake, Van Dijk, Geertruida, Dumfries; De Jong, Wieffer; Lang, Simons, Malen; Gakpo

ITA: Donnarumma; Dimarco, Buongiorno, Acerbi, Toloi; Verratti, Cristante, Frattesi; Raspadori, Retegui, Gnonto

Italy took an early lead in Enschede through Federico Dimarco, who floated a cross towards Frattesi at the back post. The midfielder looked to tee up Retegui, though the striker missed his contact as he attempted an audacious overhead kick – allowing Raspadori to play Dimarco through on goal and open the scoring in sensational fashion.

Yet despite the Netherlands seeming to grow into the game, it was Italy that added the second goal, courtesy of Davide Frattesi. Having played a part in the opener, the midfielder was able to capitalise on Raspadori’s mis-hit strike to fire past Bijlow for gli Azzurri’s second of the afternoon. Two lengthy VAR checks ensued, though the Italian’s extended advantage remained.

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A flurry of chances towards the end of the half could have quite easily seen the hosts reduce the deficit, including a fabulous opportunity for Cody Gakpo – but the Liverpool frontman’s chipped effort was sent just wide of the woodwork.

The Dutch were able to claw one back with little over twenty minutes remaining, as Steven Bergwijn jinked past Dimarco inside the box to thump an effort past Donnarumma and into the far corner. However, that strike seemed to only further motivate their opposition, who seemed intent on restoring their two-goal margin.

That’s precisely what they did just four minutes later, as Federico Chiesa finished off a lovely attacking move. Dimarco was able to dispossess Dumfries, surging the ball through to Frattesi and then Chiesa – the forward made no mistake as he rolled his effort across goal, tucking a strike into Bijlow’s bottom corner.

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The hosts thought they’d responded once more as Wout Weghorst found the back of the net within the final ten minutes, flicking a free-kick delivered by Koopmeiners past Donnarumma from close range. However, the goal was promptly disallowed following a VAR review as the ex-United striker was judged to be offside.

Though a consolation did eventually arrive, as Georginio Wijnaldum struck home in the 89th minute. Arriving inside the box, the midfielder was able to shrug off pressure from Acerbi to get on the end of Veerman’s cross – thundering an effort into the roof of the net to ensure the game ended with a more respectable scoreline.

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