Holland hit the woodwork, but Fabio Borini scored the winner as Italy will face Spain in the European Under-21 Championship Final.
The Azzurrini had Lorenzo Insigne back from a badly bruised ankle, but Riccardo Saponara had a muscular problem, while Fabio Borini was picked ahead of Manolo Gabbiadini. The Dutch side had several players with senior caps, including Martins Indi, Kevin Strootman and Luuk De Jong, though Bram Nuytinck is injured.
These teams met in August 2012 when Italy won 3-0 in Holland on Coach Devis Mangia’s debut. Spain were already in the European Championship Final after beating Norway 3-0 in the other semi-final.
Holland had the chance to open the scoring after just five minutes, but Adam Maher’s free kick curled round the wall and smacked against the near post.
Alessandro Florenzi was angered and pointed to the ‘respect’ symbol on his shirt after Ola John refused to shake his hand. Borini and Marco Verratti went into the book early on, while a wayward Strootman shot almost turned into an assist.
Borini nodded wide from a free kick, but Italy’s first real chance was on 31 minutes when Insigne sparked a counter-attack and Ciro Immobile’s angled drive was parried by goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet’s legs.
The referee waved away Dutch penalty appeals for a Giulio Donati block on Maher, as he had a perfect view. Insigne drilled off target after squirming out from a crowd of Oranje jerseys.
There was a scare when Daley Blind unleashed a screamer to sting Francesco Bardi’s gloves, then Luca Caldirola charged down the follow-up from Maher.
Moments later Borini should’ve scored when he shrugged off Martins Indi only to hit the side-netting.
On the stroke of half-time, another Maher free kick curled inches past the near post.
Stefan De Vrij just failed to get on the end of a smart Marco Van Ginkel cross at full stretch. Fausto Rossi’s shot was charged down and Borini turned the follow-up off target.
Thr Dutch went so close when Van Ginkel burst forward and exchanged passes with Luuk De Jong, but the cutback was just a fraction off target.
Italy took the lead with 12 minutes to go, as Insigne slipped a pass between two Dutch players for Borini, who got in front of Mike Van Der Hoorn to side-foot past the on-rushing goalkeeper. It was the Liverpool forward’s first Under-21 international goal since February.
Bardi had to flap at a throw-in after it was flicked past everyone, then was fortunate that a Leroy Fer free header from a corner was straight at him. The goalkeeper even went up for a last-gasp free kick, but the Dutch melee only resulted in a shot against the side-netting.
Italy 1-0 Holland
Scorers: Borini 78 (I)
Italy U21: Bardi; Donati, Caldirola, Bianchetti, Regini; Florenzi, Verratti, F Rossi (Crimi 92), Insigne (Sansone 86); Immobile (Gabbiadini 62), Borini
Holland U21: Zoet; Van Rhijn, De Vrij (Van Der Hoorn 75), Martins Indi, Blind (Fer 84); Van Ginkel, Strootman; Wijnaldum, Maher, John (Depay 69); L De Jong
Ref: Haţegan (ROU)