Despite narrowly losing to the Netherlands in Groesbeek, Italy’s Under-17 side were certainly able to remain proud of their performance at the ‘De Treffers’ stadium. The final encounter in the second round of qualification saw a match between two teams who had already progressed to the finals of the European Championship (3-19 May Croatia), having both won their previous two matches. The hosts took the lead in the opening 15 minutes of play thanks to a goal from Netherlands’ captain Redan, before they then scored their second not long after. The Azzurrini did battle hard during the second half, with a goal from Nicolussi Caviglia providing Italy with an increased sense of hope, although Bigica’s side were ultimately unable to snatch a draw.
It was a tough start for the Azzurrini as the Netherlands attacked almost instantly. Carnesecchi was forced to produce a miraculous save in just the fourth minute of the match, although he was then unable to keep out Redan’s accurate penalty just minutes later. With the home side’s captain effectively running the show, De La Vega was subsequently able to double the Netherlands’ lead in the 13th minute. Italy’s first chance of the game came in the 40th minute, as Merola’s header forced a good save from the goalkeeper.
Following the interval, Italy demonstrated their desire to get themselves back into the game, with Caviglia deservedly scoring a morale boosting goal for the Azzurrini in the 52nd minute. From then on the hosts were persistently pinned back in their own half, with Bigica’s side pressing high in search of an equaliser. Unfortunately for the Azzurrini, they were unable to snatch another, with the game ultimately ending 2-1 to the Netherlands.
Coach Emiliano Bigica was understandably disappointed with the result, although he was still proud his players: “We obviously struggled during the first half but after the interval we recovered extremely well,” said Bigica. “So much so that the home side were unable to threaten our goal. I will not criticise my players, especially considering that I had to withdraw a number of them due to the threat of suspension in the first match of the European Championship. We have qualified comfortably and we must now recover, before then focusing on the tournament in Croatia that will start in May.”
Italy-The Netherlands 1-2
Goalscorers: Redan 8’ (R); De La Vega 13’; Nicolussi Caviglia 52’
ITALY(4-4-2). Carnesecchi, Gilli, Bettella (C),Corbo, Candela, Nicolussi Caviglia, Rizzo Pinna (Biancu 73’), Caligara, Vignato, Pellegri (Visconti 41’), Merola (Portanova 60’). Coach. Bigica. Substitutes: Gemello, Anzolin.
THE NETHERLANDS (4-3-3). De Kejizer, Geetruida, St Jago, De Haas, Haspolat (Oosting 41’), Bakker (Pierie 71’), Redan (Buitink 41’), Mendonca, Van Kaam, Ladan, De La Vega. Coach. Van Wonderen. Substitutes: Schendelaar, Daverveld,El Bouchataoui, Mallahi.
Referee: Fedayi San (SUI); Assistants: Stephane De Almeida (SUI) and Darragh Keegan (IRL); IV Uomo Robert Harvey (IRL)
Notes: 1200 spectators . Bookings: Corbo, Pellegri, Nicolussi Caviglia, St Jiago, Ladan.