Holland 1-1 Italy: Verratti rescues Azzurri in Amsterdam
The Dutch were first out the blocks and took control of the game early on, but failed to really test Gianluigi Buffon in the Italy goal.
Robin van Persie was the first to excite the crowd as his wonderful piece of skill took Davide Santon out of the game, before slipping the ball to Lens on the right, but he failed to put in a decent cross and Buffon claimed easily.
Buffon once again came to the rescue as he kept out, first Adam Maher, then moments later Kevin Strootman was denied by the Juventus custodian.
Italy though did eventually cause some panic in the Dutch backline with Andrea Pirlo playing a lovely ball over the top to Mario Balotelli, but the AC Milan striker tried to find clubmate Stephan El Shaarawy instead of going for goal himself, and the ball was ultimately cleared.
Balotelli latched on to another Pirlo ball, this time shooting on the volley, but fired wide.
But just as it looked like Italy were turning the screw on the Netherlands, the home side broke the deadlock.
Maher shot from the edge of the area, but it was blocked by Andrea Barzagli, only for the ball to fall into the path of Lens who smashed it past Buffon.
This did wake Cesare Prandelli’s men from their slumber with Antonio Candreva looking for El Shaarawy at the back post, only for his cross to be cut out by Daryl Janmaat. Then Riccardo Montolivo’s long range strike was blocked by Daley Blind.
After the break Louis van Gaal’s men were once more the team who looked more likely. Maher and Robben looked good on the flanks peppering the Italy box with a number of crosses.
Italy really struggled to get going and their final ball was especially woeful.
The Netherlands were started knocking on the door once more with Robben and Dirk Kuyt setting up Maher twice, but the AZ midfielder found the Italian defence tough to break through.
Strootman saw a shot from the edge of the area fly wide, before Buffon once more came to the rescue as his outstretched arm prevented Lens from doubling the Dutch sides’ advantage.
Robben’s influence in the second half was starting to tell as Ignazio Abate struggled to keep tabs on the Bayern Munich man.
The Azzurri did eventually have a decent effort on goal as Alessandro Florenzi crossed for clubmate Pablo Osvaldo, whose backpost header was placed just wide of Tim Krul’s near post.
Maher then put Kuyt through on goal but the forward’s strike was woeful and the ball rolled straight into the outstretched arms of Buffon, much to the relief of the Azzurri defence.
Moments later, Abate picked out Osvaldo with an excellent ball from the right, but the Giallorossi striker’s header back across goal wasn’t good enough and it bounced wide.
Alberto Gilardino was then denied by Krul as Italy rallied in the final moments and got their reward when Marco Verratti played a lovely one-two with Gilardino in the penalty area, before sliding the ball past Krul to score his first ever senior international goal.