Italy clinched the bronze medal in the UEFA Nations League with a 3-2 victory over the Netherlands in the third/fourth play-off match on Sunday afternoon. Italian coach Roberto Mancini made several changes to the lineup following the loss to Spain, granting Bryan Cristante, Marco Verratti, Wilfried Gnonto, Mateo Retegui, and Giacomo Raspadori starting positions.
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In a stunning fashion, the European champions took an early lead when Giacomo Raspadori’s back-heel pass set up Federico Dimarco, who fired the ball into the far corner of the net. Italy extended their advantage in the 20th minute as Wilfried Gnonto’s shot took a deflection and fell to an unmarked Davide Frattesi, who calmly finished past goalkeeper Justin Bijlow.
The Netherlands had to wait until the final five minutes of the first half to create their first significant chance, but Cody Gakpo failed to hit the target from close range despite evading a couple of challenges.
At the start of the second half, Koeman made a triple substitution, introducing Steve Bergwijn, Wout Weghorst, and Georginio Wijnaldum to bolster the team’s attack. The changes paid off as the Netherlands reduced the deficit in the 68th minute with a powerful finish from Bergwijn after good work by Gakpo on the left flank.
However, Italy quickly regained their two-goal advantage as Frattesi turned provider, setting up Federico Chiesa on the left, and the substitute confidently struck the ball into the near post.
The Dutch momentarily thought they had scored a second goal in the 82nd minute when Weghorst found the back of the net from close range, but VAR disallowed the goal due to an offside infringement. Koeman’s team reduced the deficit seven minutes later when Johannes Cornelis Maria Veerman set up Wijnaldum, who fired into the net. However, they couldn’t find another goal as the Italians held on to secure the victory.