Netherlands U21 side missed out on a place in the European Championships final after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Italy.

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italy u21Netherlands were back to full strength again after resting their full XI against Spain in the 3-0 defeat on Wednesday, and in front of a watching Louis van Gaal they dominated from the start.

Adam Maher was unlucky not to give Netherlands the lead within the opening five minutes, when his free-kick outside the box came back of the woodwork.

Netherlands controlled possession well for the rest of the first half, restricting Italy to playing on the break, with the returning Lorenzo Insigne looking lively when given time.

In the second half Netherlands continued to have much of the ball, and should have taken the lead, when Marco van Ginkel played through striker Luuk de Jong. However instead of shooting the Borussia Monchengladbach man decided to try and play the ball back to Van Ginkel, but put it behind his team mate.

Netherlands were dealt a blow when Stefan de Vrij went down injured with 15 minutes left, with Mike van der Hoorn came on in his place.

In almost his first piece of action Van der Hoorn allowed Fabio Borini to turn him from a Insigne pass, and the Liverpool man fired past Zoet to give the Italians the lead.

For the final ten minutes Netherlands pushed forward looking for the equailser, with Leroy Fer heading straight at the goalkeeper from a corner. In the final minute a long free kick found its way to Memphis Depay at the back post, but the PSV man’s shot hit the side netting.

The game ended 1-0 and it will be Italy who go forward to face Spain on Tuesday’s final. The Netherlands were let down by poor finishing and crossing in a game that should have been out of sight with all the Dutch possession. Italy did not help with a lot of diving and poor sportsmanship. Not giving the ball back to Netherlands when play was stopped for an injury. Italian players also celebrated in Depay’s face when he missed late on.

Coach Cor Pots leaves his post after this match, and he will take criticism for resting his whole team against Spain.The 3-0 loss no doubt knocked the side out of their rhythm, and the players did not show the standard that was seen in the wins over Germany, and Russia in the opening two games.

Lessons will have been learned by this side, most of which will travel with the senior squad to next summers World Cup in Brazil. Hopefully with a better result.

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