Netherlands v Italy, 09 June 2008

Score3-0 to Netherlands
RefereePeter Frojdfeldt
CompetitionUEFA European Championship Finals Group C
VenueStade de Suisse, Berne
Attendance30,777
Kick-Off: 8.45pm local Assistant referees: Stefan Wittberg (Sweden) Henrik Andrén (Sweden) Fourth official: Damir Skomina (Slovenia) Man of the Match: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands) The Netherlands ended a 30-year wait for a victory over Italy in emphatic fashion as they began their UEFA EURO 2008 campaign with a rousing win against the world champions in Switzerland. Ruud van Nistelrooy side-footed the Oranje ahead in the 26th minute, a lead doubled superbly by then Real Madrid CF colleague Wesley Sneijder soon after. Edwin van der Sar, becoming only the third player to appear in four UEFA European Championships, kept the advantage intact, leaving Giovanni van Bronckhorst to complete Italy's worst-ever EURO defeat. With coaches Marco van Basten and Roberto Donadoni schooled under Arrigo Sacchi at AC Milan, an attacking treat was always in store. So it proved, Antonio Di Natale narrowly failing to free Luca Toni in only the second minute. The FC Bayern München striker did get an early glimpse of goal, rising to flick a header wide, yet from then on the Dutch dominated the half. Dirk Kuyt outmuscled Gianluca Zambrotta and slipped a delicious low ball to Van Nistelrooy, who touched it beyond the outrushing Gianluigi Buffon but stayed on his feet after making contact with the Italy captain. That was the last act of charity from the Dutch, as the Azzurri paid for the concession of a number of free-kicks on the periphery of their area. Sneijder fizzed one set piece in from the left which Marco Materazzi headed clear. Then Rafael van der Vaart did likewise from the right, the scrambling Buffon's punched clearance eventually reaching birthday boy Sneijder, whose powerful drive from the corner of the box was turned in by Van Nistelrooy. Italy went close to levelling from a corner yet were caught flat-footed when Van Bronckhorst, who had cleared off the line, was able to charge half the length of the field unchallenged. The Feyenoord man had time to ping a perfect crossfield ball to the industrious Kuyt whose cushioned header was spectacularly hooked inside Buffon's near post by the leaping Sneijder. Italy's three-man midfield could not contain Sneijder as he probed the left. He created space for Van Bronckhorst and also Van der Vaart, who dissected an Azzurri back line missing injured captain Fabio Cannavaro with a pass that released Van Nistelrooy on goal. Buffon stood tall, however, clipping the shot over with his feet. Italy improved after the break. Substitute Alessandro Del Piero failed to profit from two half-chances, Toni lofted a shot over and Van der Sar foiled Fabio Grosso at close range before diving at full stretch to keep out a Pirlo free-kick. It left Van Bronckhorst to wrap things up at the other end following smart work by Kuyt.

3  Netherlands

Manager: Marco Van Basten

0  Italy

Manager: Roberto Donadoni

Goals:

Ruud Van Nistelrooy 26 G
Wesley Sneijder 31 G
Giovanni van Bronckhorst 80 G

Goals:

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar (captain)
Defender Joris Mathijsen
Defender Andre Ooijer
Midfielder Nigel de Jong
Midfielder Wesley Sneijder
Midfielder/Forward Dirk Kuyt

Starting lineup:

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (captain)
Defender Andrea Barzagli
Defender/Centre back Marco Materazzi
Midfielder Massimo Ambrosini
Midfielder Mauro Camoranesi
Midfielder Gennaro Gattuso
Forward Andrea Pirlo
Forward Luca Toni

Substitutions:

Robin van Persie for Ruud Van Nistelrooy 70
Johnny Heitinga for Khalid Boulahrouz 77
Ibrahim Afellay for Dirk Kuyt 81

Substitutions:

Fabio Grosso for Marco Materazzi 55
Alessandro Del Piero for Antonio Di Natale 64
Antonio Cassano for Mauro Camoranesi 75

Cards:

Nigel de Jong 59 Y

Cards:

Luca Toni 27 Y
Gianluca Zambrotta 35 Y
Gennaro Gattuso 51 Y

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Henk Timmer
Defender/Right back Mario Melchiot
Defender Wilfred Bouma
Defender Tim de Cler
Defender Johnny Heitinga
Midfielder Ibrahim Afellay
Midfielder Demy de Zeeuw
Midfielder Arjen Robben

On the bench:

Goalkeeper Marco Amelia
Goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis
Defender/Midfielder Fabio Grosso
Midfielder Alberto Aquilani
Midfielder Daniele De Rossi
Midfielder Simone Perrotta
Forward Marco Borriello
Forward Antonio Cassano

Comments:

- Wesley Sneijder scored on his 24th birthday. The only other player to score on his birthday at a European Championships was France's Jean-Francois Domergue in a 3-2 win over Portugal in 1984. - Netherland's Edwin van der Sar and Italy's Alessandro Del Piero played in their fourth European Championship as they were also present in 1996, 2000 and 2004. They equalled Germany's Lothar Matthaus, Denmark's Peter Schmeichel and France's Lilian Thuram. Van der Sar became the first Dutch player to appear in 14 European Championship matches. He overtook Dennis Bergkamp and Phillip Cocu. The overall record is 15 and was set by Thuram, in France's 0-0 draw with Romania in the day's other Group C match. - Ruud van Nistelrooy has now scored five European Championship goals equalling his current coach Marco van Basten. Patrick Kluivert is the only Dutch player who has scored more European Championship goals (six).

Comments:

- This three goal loss marks Italy's biggest defeat ever at the European Championship. The Italians lost twice with a three goal margin at the World Cup: Switzerland (4-1 in 1954) and Brazil (4-1 in 1970). - Italy's starting line-up was 31 years and 52 days which is the oldest starting 11 in the history of the competition.