Netherlands crowned Euro U17s champions at the New York Stadium

THE AESSEAL New York Stadium belonged to the Netherlands tonight as they were crowned European U17s champions.

They beat Italy 4-1 on penalties after an entertaining encounter had finished 2-2 and on the balance of play, the men in orange just about deserved it.

The Netherlands were the best side in the first half, Ryan Gravenberch hitting the bar and missing two other good chances.

Ajax’s Jurrien Maduro gave them a deserved lead six minutes after the break when he played a one-two and got a shot away that a wicked deflection and looped over the goalkeeper.

It was a pity England weren’t involved in the final and the crowd size reflected that. There was still a good atmosphere, boosted by a sizeable contingent of noisy Italians, and they had plenty to cheer when their side scored twice in three minutes around the hour mark to take the lead. Both were super strikes.

Samuele Ricci took possession just outside the box and the Empoli man turned to flight a delicious shot into the top corner to equalise. Two minute later, Alessio Riccardi took possession down the left and turned inside, looked up and fired high and beyond the reach of the keeper to complete the turn-around.

The Netherlands regrouped and hit back to level on 73 minutes. Mohammed Ihattaren centred with the outside of his left peg and the ball sat up perfectly for substitute Brian Bobbey to tap home and set up penalties.

They'd already shown their prowess from the penalty spot in the tournament, beating the Republic of Ireland and then England in the semi-finals on penalties, and did so again, helped by a couple of good saves from their goalkeeper Joey Koorevaar.

The on-pitch celebrations marked the end of a tournament which has showcased the best young European talent and raised the profile of the NYS and of Rotherham United.