Roberto Mancini pleased with early Italy progress following Holland draw

Roberto Mancini saw his Italy side concede a late equaliser in their friendly against Holland but insists he has a “sense of optimism” following his first three games at the helm.

The Azzurri appeared on course to pick up a narrow victory when Simone Zaza marked his return to international football with a goal but, after Domenico Criscito was sent off, Nathan Ake earned the visitors a 1-1 draw with an 87th-minute header in Turin.

Mancini’s reign started with victory over Saudi Arabia before a loss to France as he looks to rebuild Italy following their failed World Cup qualification campaign.

“We were tired but we still took the lead,” the former Manchester City boss said after the draw.

“It was a shame we lost focus. There’s lots of work to do. Above all, these matches help with developing the new players.

“The lads showed lots of effort. We need to sort various things out but there’s a sense of optimism. The warmth of the fans is helping a lot.”

Zaza had not featured for Italy since Euro 2016 but came off the bench to slide in and put the hosts ahead just three minutes after his introduction.

Italy’s hopes of holding on for the win were dented when Criscito was shown a straight red card for fouling Ryan Babel.

Dutch boss Ronald Koeman is also new to his post and was unhappy with his side’s first-half display at the Juventus Stadium as goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was forced to make a couple of smart saves.

“The first half was not good again,” he told reporters after the game.

“We had little initiative, were sloppy with the ball and got away a few times. We had trouble coming up from the midfield and had trouble with the runners of Italy.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

Serving quality football news from around the globe. No click-bait.