Italy 1 (Borini 79)
Italy defeated the Jong Oranje 1-0 on Saturday evening to set up a Under-21 Euro final with defending champions Spain on Tuesday.
A 79th minute winner from Fabio Borini earned the Italians the championship game with Spain, who earlier that evening eliminated Norway 3-0 to reach the final and try to retain their title.
The Dutch dominated possession from the off but failed to make that breakthrough past goalkeeper Francesco Bardi. The creativity and the final product was not there, Ola John looked leggy, midfield duo Marco van Ginkel and Adam Maher were non-existent and Luuk de Jong was left alone up top starved of any service.
It was a slow paced first 45 minutes, and both pressuring each other high up the pitch – Italy using the counter attack very well. The Dutch looked more likely to score due to the tremendous possession play and they could have been 1-0 up after just five minutes.
Marco Verratti brought down Georginio Wijnaldum on the edge of the penalty area and Maher took the resulting free-kick and the lucky Bardi was stuck to his line as he watched the ball hit the outside of his left post.
Cor Pot’s men were applying some force and won a string of corners but Bardi was able to deal with them all before the strong Kevin Strootman fired a power shot wide from distance.
Italy could themselves be a goal in front midway through the half if it were not for Jeroen Zoet in goal. Ciro Immobile then brought a save out of goalkeeper, with Zoet stopping his shot with his feet before the sharp Lorenzo Insigne fired wide from 25 yards.
Ajax left-back Daley Blind found himself attacking the edge of the box and he forced Bardi into a smart parry as the interval approached and but it was the Italians who should have went into the break a goal to the good.
Liverpool striker Borini collected the ball midway into his own half and continues into the penalty area but could only fire into the side-netting after bearing down on Zoet. The Azzurrini continued to miss several chances to take the lead, with a Manolo Gabbiadini attempt on goal in the 74th minute landing neatly in the arms of Zoet.
As the second half continued it proved to be incredibly cautious as both teams became weary of the either sides attacking threat. The Dutch received a blow when Stefan de Vrij had to be replaced by FC Utrecht powerhouse Mike van der Hoorn on 75 minutes due to a knee injury to the Feyenoord defender.
And unfortunately for Van der Hoorn, his mistake let Italy score the opener. Insigne showed smart feet to beat his man on the edge of the box and played the ball in to Borini who caught Van der Hoorn flat footed. Borini’s next two touches with his right foot gained an advantage on the stranded defender to get on his preferred side and the Liverpool man slotted past Zoet into the far corner.
Holland brought on some much needed attacking threat with Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay and Fer should have equalised in the 89th minute.
Maher delivered a corner and the leaping Fer jumped higher than everyone to connect to the swinging ball but he could only head straight into Bardi’s hands.
It was a disappointing end to Pot’s reign, who decided to step down after this tournament. His team were defeated by a team that they should have swept away with a far superior squad of players with international experience.
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