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Italy 2-0 Netherlands: Conte era starts in style

The new manager triumphed in his first match as Italy coach, with Ciro Immobile and Daniele De Rossi finding net.

Italy made a bright start under Antonio Conte as goals from Ciro Immobile and Daniele De Rossi gave it a 2-0 win over the 10-man Netherlands.

Conte – tasked with leading Italy into a new generation after Cesare Prandelli's post-World Cup resignation – could not have hoped for a better start in Bari on Thursday.

Immobile fired his side ahead after just three minutes when a long Leonardo Bonucci ball caught the Netherlands defense napping.

And worse was to come for the visitors — beginning their own new era under Guus Hiddink, who also coached them from 1994 to 1998.

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Bruno Martins Indi was sent off in the ninth minute for bringing down Italy debutant Simone Zaza in the penalty area and De Rossi coolly converted the spot kick.

Italy had numerous chances to extend its lead, particularly in the first half, but Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen did well to keep it at bay before the contest fizzled out in the latter stages.

Conte — widely regarded as one of the best coaches in Europe after leading Juventus to three successive Serie A titles — will be encouraged not only by the result, but also by the impressive performance from his side.

Granted, Martins Indi's early dismissal ensured the match was played on Italy's terms, but its bright interplay and attacking verve is sure to have buoyed Conte ahead of the nation's first Euro 2016 qualifier in Norway on Tuesday.

Immobile quickly gave Italy the lead when Bonucci's hopeful punt split Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij. Cillessen came charging out of his goal, but Immobile had enough time to round the Netherlands goalkeeper before tapping in with his left foot to open his account for Italy.

Wesley Sneijder curled an effort over at the other end but it was a rare sight of goal for the Netherlands, which quickly found itself down to 10 men when Martins Indi — the last man — brought down Zaza.

De Rossi promptly rolled his effort into the bottom-left corner. Hiddink swapped Jeremain Lens for defender Joel Veltman in a bid to stem the flow of goals, and while that was successful, the change did little to halt Italy's momentum.

Zaza should have marked his debut with a goal in the 20th minute, but was denied by a great Cillessen save after Immobile unselfishly centered, while the scorer shot just over after combining well with his strike partner.

Immobile missed the target again when played in by Zaza on the stroke of halftime and the latter's quest for a goal continued after the break when he shot into the side netting.

Robin van Persie fired just wide for the Netherlands after Andrea Ranocchia's poor headed clearance, but like Sneijder's first-half effort, it was a rare foray forward for the visitors.

Italy still controlled the match but was restricted to long-range efforts — Bonucci and Zaza both tested Cillessen from distance, while Mattia Destro headed over — in the second half, as a flurry of substitutions saw the match peter out.

Two goals were more than enough for Italy, though, as the Netherlands received a wake-up call ahead of its opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Czech Republic on Tuesday.

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