In a closely-fought friendly in Zeist, the Under-19 National Team narrowly lost 2-1 to the Netherlands today. Starting well in the first half, the Azzurrini scored the opening goal of the game through Nicolò Zaniolo in the 25th minute, with the Dutch then responding in perfect fashion by winning a penalty just six minutes later. Michele Cerofolini initially produced a fine stop to keep out the spot kick, although Joel Piroe was then capable of firing in the rebound. The home side then took the lead thanks to free kick from Malen, which initially seemed innocuous before it eventually snuck its way into the bottom right-hand corner. Both sides continued to attack after the interval, with the Azzurrini going extremely close to snatching an equaliser through Juventus striker Marco Olivieri, although the youngster’s solid effort rebounded back off the post.
It is a first defeat for Nicolato during his recent reign as Azzurrini boss, previously picking up five wins and a draw. Three of these came in Sweden, when the Under-19s progressed to the second phase of European qualifying: “I am pleased with our performance,” said Nicolato. “The lads were ambitious and never gave up. It is a useful test during which I could see some of the lads who I’ve not seen play for a while, such as Valeau, Sala and Buongiorno. They all seemed well adjusted with the mechanisms of the team.”
The Azzurrini will return to Italy tomorrow, where on Monday 13th November they’ll take part in another friendly against Hungary (14:30 CET) at the Stadio Silvio Appiani.