Van Gaal rues Netherlands' failure to score second goal

Italy starlet Marco Verratti equalised for the visitors in stoppage-time to ensure the friendly finished 1-1 in Amsterdam, but the head coach refused to criticise his players

Louis van Gaal rued Netherlands' failure to put the game to bed in their 1-1 draw with Italy on Wednesday night.

Jeremain Lens’ strike had looked set to seal a victory at the Amsterdam ArenA, but Azzurri starlet Marco Verratti scored in the second minute of stoppage-time to snatch a late leveller.

Van Gaal refused to criticise his players and hailed goalscorer Lens for his impact in a more offensive role than he is normally accustomed to.

The former Bayern Munich coach told reporters after the game: "We created many chances. We had to win this game with an early second goal but, as a team, we played well, in the style of the Dutch school of football.

"Tonight, [Cesare] Prandelli decided to play 4-4-2, and we took too long to recover. [Daryl] Janmaat came into midfield, but it was too late when he did that. The moment that we were finally back in the game, they scored the equaliser.

"We could see tonight that Lens is an interesting option in the striker role. In the future he will play in that position because he is a very good player. I was able to give him a chance because of the injury to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar."

Oranje face Estonia on March 21 in their next World Cup 2014 qualification match.