Zaza 'emotional' after Italy goal

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Euro 2016 ended in humiliation for the Valencia man, making his goal for Italy against Netherlands a significant one for the striker

Simone Zaza conceded to feeling "a little emotional" after scoring in Italy's 1-1 draw with Netherlands, two years on from his embarrassing penalty miss against Germany.

The striker broke the deadlock in Turin, albeit with the aid of Virgil van Dijk's unfortunate attempt at a clearance from Federico Chiesa's low cross.

Zaza's goal, which came shortly after his introduction from the bench, helped to ease some of the pain of his spot-kick howler at Euro 2016, when his bizarre run-up preceded a wild effort which he blazed over the crossbar in a quarter-final shoot-out loss.

Nathan Ake levelled the scores in Monday's match after Domenico Criscito had seen red for the hosts in a clash of two sides who failed to qualify for the World Cup, but Zaza was able to focus on the positives. 

"I am happy for the goal as I had some rather sad memories of the national team," the Valencia forward told Rai Sport.

"I was a little lucky, but I had a really rough time and all those negative memories, so I felt a little emotional.

"I am happy with the performance, as we are a young squad and – unfortunately to a degree – we have a lot of time to prepare for the next tournament.

"Negative moments, not just that penalty, but also my experience in England [with West Ham], helped me to grow. I thank the people who were always close to me and I march on.

"I might be biased, but I think Italy have a young, enthusiastic side with a lot of quality and even more potential that over time will become competitive."

Meanwhile, Mancini was left to rue the Criscito sending off, something the Italy boss called "naive" in his post-match comments.

"It was a friendly, I don't know if that was really a red card," he told Rai Sport.

"It was nonetheless an enormously naive error. Playing down to 10 men for 20 minutes was tough, as we were already feeling tired.

"It's difficult after 10 days to develop really complex tactical situations, but we saw some good things against France and again today."

However, Mancini was pleased with the effort, and declared the games had served their purpose.

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"We have to get them playing and gaining experience, otherwise they never will play, so that's what the friendlies are for.

"It was important that the lads put the effort in, which wasn't easy after a long and tiring campaign. They did that, they've got the right mentality and now we go towards August with optimism.

"We're glad the fans have so much enthusiasm for a young side."

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