No fairytale start for Grim: Italy beats Netherlands 2-1

AMSTERDAM (AP) " Italy beat the Netherlands 2-1 in a friendly Tuesday in caretaker Dutch coach Fred Grim's first and possibly only match in charge.

The Dutch went down playing positive attacking football, unlike the meek capitulation in Saturday's 2-0 World Cup qualifier defeat to Bulgaria that cost Grim's predecessor Danny Blind his job.

The Netherlands took the lead in the 10th minute when a shot by Quincy Promes deflected off two Italian defenders into the net, with Alessio Romagnoli getting the final touch that wrong-footed Gianluigi Donnarumma. The goalkeeper was making his first start for the Azzurri at age 18, keeping 39-year-old Gianluigi Buffon on the bench, just days after the veteran played his 1,000th professional match in Italy's 2-0 defeat of Albania.

But before the cheers had died down at the Amsterdam Arena, Italy scored at the correct end with Wesley Hoedt heading a quickly taken free kick straight to Eder, who drove a low shot past Jeroen Zoet.

Some more weak Dutch defending helped Italy take the lead in the 32nd minute when Zoet couldn't hold onto a header from a corner and Leonardo Bonucci pounced on the loose ball to hammer it into the roof of the net.

Italy is second in World Cup qualifying Group G, level on points with leader Spain. The Netherlands slumped to fourth in Group A following Saturday's humiliating defeat in Sofia.

A day later, the Dutch football association fired Blind and placed Grim in charge until a permanent replacement can be found. One man being named as a possible new coach, Louis van Gaal, was in the stands Tuesday.

Grim, a former Ajax goalkeeper, said Blind advised him to take the caretaker's role.

"He told us, 'Do this, the team needs it,'" Grim said.

Grim started with Memphis Depay up front and the Lyon forward showed that the confidence that deserted him during his spell at Manchester United is returning with a clever back heel to set up Promes in the first half. Nice footwork after the break allowed him to get the better of Italy's defense, but he couldn't turn his trickery into the goal that the Dutch needed.

Grim said he chose Depay along with Jeremain Lens and Promes up front because he wanted players with the moves to beat Italy's defenders and the legs to get back and defend when necessary.

Substitute Wesley Sneijder had two efforts well saved by Donnarumma in the frenetic closing minutes as the Netherlands pushed in vain for an equalizer.

Italy's next qualifier is against Liechtenstein in June before what is likely to be the decisive group stage match, against Spain, in September. The Netherlands plays Luxembourg in June and group leader France on Aug. 31.

"This was maybe the last chance to try things out," Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura said. "Some things worked and some didn't."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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