Virgil van Dijk felt the Netherlands were suitably punished for a poor performance as they lost 1-0 to Italy in Monday’s Nations League clash.
A header from Nicolo Barella secured victory for the Azzurri in Amsterdam and sent them top of Group A1, a point above the Oranje.
The home side kept Italy penned back in the closing minutes but created little by way of clear-cut chances, Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek coming closest with a half-volley that was superbly saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Captain Van Dijk thought his side paid the price for a particularly off-colour display in the first half.
“It was a poor game for us,” the Liverpool defender told NOS. “We couldn’t really put them under pressure, we were sloppy in possession.
“The pitch didn’t help, either, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. We should be better – that’s the conclusion tonight.
“The first half wasn’t good. After the break, we tried to turn that around, and you saw it did go better at times, but generally it wasn’t a good match.
“You try to put on all your pressure and, at a certain point, the players also get tired. It’s then difficult to keep that up and, when we have the ball, to keep making runs.
“But I’m not going to make excuses. The first half in particular was average to poor.”
Frenkie de Jong thought the Dutch were forced too far apart by Italy’s pressing, leaving them unable to exploit any potential Azzurri gaps.
“They put pressure on us quickly,” said the Barcelona midfielder. “They split us apart like that. When we had the ball, we were often far apart. It’s then difficult to play football.
“This says nothing about our qualities. We will have to do better in the away game.”
14% – The Netherlands have won only 14% of their matches against Italy (3/21 – D9 L9), their joint worst win percentage against an opponent faced at least three times (also 14% against Portugal). Basta. pic.twitter.com/jtJYqrenzV
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) September 7, 2020