Netherlands claim fourth European Under-17 title in nine years
The team produced some sharp, passing football and forced errors from Italy
The Netherlands team celebrate with the cup after victory in the European Under-17 Championship final at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: PA
Netherlands 4 Italy 2
The Dutch wrapped up another European Under-17 Championship title in Tallaght where three first half goals put them in firm control of a tournament final that Italy never quite got to grips with.
Carmine Nunziata’s side had won all 11 of their previous games this season but early mistakes left them chasing this one by the break and and while bringing on Milan striker Lorenzo Colombo for the second half helped, the Azzurri couldn’t quite save themselves.
After a relatively poor performance against Spain on Thursday, the Dutch, who also beat the Italians in the final 12 months ago, were back to their best here. The team produced some sharp, passing football and forced errors from their opponents that they were then quick to capitalise on.
Sontje Hansen opened the scoring 20 minutes in after Marco Molla had only managed to parry a Naoufai Bannis shot into his path and the Feyenoord striker then got a fairly similar one himself when Ki-Jana Hoever’s free came clattering back off the left hand post. Chelsea’s Ian Maatsen then made it 3-0 with a lovely strike that beat Molla to his bottom right corner
Colombo’s introduction came as a big boost to the Italians and for a while after he turned a Sebastiano Esposito corner home 10 minutes into the second half, there seemed to be some hope for them. That was pretty much killed off 20 minutes from time, though, when Ajax’s Navi Unuvar became the first 15 year-old ever to score in an Under-17 European final.
It was entertaining stuff for the crowd of 5,952, though, and after a couple of chances at either end, Colombo got his, and Italy’s, second a couple of minutes of time.
It was the Dutch, however, who are masters again, lifting their fourth title at this level in just nine years.
Netherlands: Raatsie; Hoever (de Schutter, 90+3), , Bogarde, Rensch, Salah-Eddine (Kasanwirjo, 69 mins); Taylor, Taabouni (Proper, 86 mins), Maatsen; Hansen (Unuvar, 69 mins), Bannis (Allouch, 90+3), Brobbey.
Italy: Molla; Moretti (Ruggeri (half-time), Mura, Pirola, Lamanna; Brentan (Sekulov, 47 mins), Panada (Bonfanti, 90+3) , Udogie; Tongya (Giovane, 82 mins); Cudrig (Cudrig, half-time), Esposito.
Referee: E Eskisehir (Norway)