Guus Hiddink’s first game back in charge of Netherlands ended in defeat as his 10-man side was defeated 2-0 by Italy in Bari.

  • By Michael Bell
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it de fjNetherlands success at the World Cup was built around Louis van Gaal’s 5-3-2 formation, which saw the Dutch stay strong at the back, while also remain a threat up front with the pace of Robben, and the skills of Van Persie. However new coach Guus Hiddink returned to the traditional 4-3-3 for the match in Italy, and without Arjen Robben, his new side were found lacking.

After only three minutes a long ball forward split the four man defence, and Ciro immobile broke through before rounding a stranded Jasper Cillessen and slotting into the empty net.

Six minutes later things wen’t from bad to worse for Hiddink as another ball over the top set Italian winger Simone Zaza free, and after being bundled over in the box the referee awarded a penalty, and showed Bruno Martins Indi a straight red card. Daniele de Rossi slotted the penalty past Cillessen, and it appeared bleak for Netherlands. Zaza forced Cillessen into a smart save before the twenty minute mark as Italy threatened to run riot.

Netherlands created nothing in the first half with Dirk Kuyt providing no pace alongside an isolated Robin Van Persie, who finally had his first chance early in the second period, but the Manchester united forward fired wide.

Wesley Sneijder was behind Netherlands only shot on target during the match but his long range effort was eventually pounced on by a caught out Salvatore Sirigu. Italy were comfortable throughout the second half without adding a third goal, and new coach Antonio Conte will be pleased with his side’s 2-0 win.

It was a poor performance by Netherlands, but next Tuesday against Czech Republic will be the first real match to judge Guus Hiddink, and although he got his starting eleven and tactics all wrong tonight, a win in the first European Championship qualifier will see it all forgotten.

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