International friendly: Antonio Conte makes winning start as Italy beat 10-man Holland 2-0
Last Updated: 04/09/14 10:48pm
Antonio Conte made a winning start to life as Italy coach as the Azzurri beat 10-man Holland 2-0 in an international friendly meeting in Bari.
An early goal from Ciro Immobile and the Daniele De Rossi penalty that swiftly followed Bruno Martins Indi's dismissal ushered in a new era for Italy under former Juventus boss Conte.
Meanwhile Holland, who were welcoming Guus Hiddink back as coach, looked a shadow of the side that finished third under Louis van Gaal at the World Cup finals in Brazil.
The Dutch were without six key players through injury and only produced one shot on goal, a long-range effort from Wesley Sneijder early in the second half which Salvatore Sirigu saved.
Italy showed touches of class in their first match since their humiliating first-round elimination from the World Cup, with Borussia Dortmund forward Immobile and Sassuolo striker Simone Zaza at the centre of much of the team's best work.
Conte, who replaced Cesare Prandelli this summer, returned to Bari, where he had coached earlier in his career, looking to become the first Italy manager in 16 years to win on his debut.
The Azzurri looked confident from the start and went ahead when Leonardo Bonucci set up Immobile in the box, his left-footed strike towards the far post beating Holland goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
It got worse for the visitors as Martins Indi was shown the red card after bringing Zaza down in the penalty area.
Rossi stepped up to the spot and struck the ball out of Cillessen's reach and into the net.
Hiddink made his first substitution shortly after, with defender Joel Veltman replacing forward Jeremain Lens.
Italy almost made it 3-0 in the 20th minute when Immobile fed Zaza in the box, but his 10-yard effort was saved by Cillessen.
On the half-hour mark, Zaza found Immobile in the heart of the area yet his volley went wide.
Italy continued to press forward and shortly before half-time, Cillesen kept out Mattia De Sciglio's sharp strike from 30 yards out.
The Dutch should have reduced the deficit early in the second half but Robin van Persie sent his effort wide from close range with only Sirigu left to beat.
Sneijder came closest shortly after, his hard drive forcing Sirigu to make his only save of the evening.
On the hour, Zaza warmed the hands of Cillessen with a stinging drive and, with 10 minutes remaining, substitute Mattia Destro's close-range header from Manuel Pasqual's cross went over.
After the final whistle, Conte and his victorious players received a rapturous ovation from the 45,000-strong crowd in the Stadio San Nicola.
Watch Italy's European Qualifier away to Norway live on Sky Sports 5 HD on Tuesday night, with coverage underway from 7.30pm.