Antonio Conte had the ideal start to his Italy career, beating 10-man Holland 2-0 with Ciro Immobile and Daniele De Rossi goals.
The Stadio San Nicola in Bari hosted the debut of new Coach Conte, who chose a 3-5-2 formation with Emanuele Giaccherini picked ahead of Marco Parolo and Simone Zaza of Sassuolo getting his first cap at senior level. Guus Hiddink returned to the Oranje bench and brought the 4-3-3 approach with him, starting Lazio defender Stefan de Vrij and Milan midfielder Nigel de Jong.
This was also a warm-up for the Azzurri’s opening Euro 2016 qualifier away to Norway on Tuesday. Around 50,000 were in the stadium despite heavy rainfall in the area, providing a great atmosphere against a nation Italy hadn’t beaten for nine years.
It took just three minutes to break the deadlock, as Immobile sprung the offside trap on a ball over the top and kept his cool to dribble round Jasper Cillessen, depositing into an empty net.
Soon after Zaza burst into the box and was brought down from behind by Bruno Martins Indi who, as last man on a clear scoring opportunity, was shown a straight red card. Daniele De Rossi stepped up and the captain sent Cillessen the wrong way with his penalty.
Hiddink made a change, removing forward Jeremain Lens for Joel Veltman as 10-man Holland tried to shore up after a disastrous start.
Immobile sprinted towards goal from his own half and generously rolled across for Zaza, but the side-foot finish was kept out by a desperate Cillessen save.
The new strike partners worked together brilliantly, as Zaza chested down the ball for Immobile’s acrobatic finish just over the bar. Cillessen also intercepted a dangerous Matteo Darmian cross for Immobile.
Zaza hit the side-netting after finding space, but Robin van Persie flashed an angled drive inches wide after an Andrea Ranocchia error. Wesley Sneijder also tested Salvatore Sirigu when his long-range effort took an awkward bounce.
Bonucci had an audacious strike from 40 metres that failed to surprise Cillessen, who spilled a Zaza attempt after De Rossi’s back-heel flick.
Manuel Pasqual whipped in a cross from the left for Mattia Destro to nod over from close range. It was a fine performance and Italy's first friendly victory since May 2013.
Italy 2-0 Netherlands
Scorers: Immobile 3 (I), De Rossi pen 10 (I)
Italy: Sirigu; Ranocchia, Bonucci, Astori; Darmian (Candreva 73), Marchisio (Verratti 63), De Rossi (Parolo 67), Giaccherini, De Sciglio (Pasqual 67); Immobile (Giovinco 76), Zaza (Destro 73)
Netherlands: Cillessen; Janmaat (Van Der Wiel 73), De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind; Wijnaldum (Fer 85), De Jong (Pieters 64), Sneijder; Kuyt, Van Persie (Narsingh 80), Lens (Veltman 12)
Ref: Karasev (RUS)
Sent off: Martins Indi 9 (N)
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk