Van Gaal: Dutch lacked killer instinct
By Football News
Jeremain Lens' strike had looked set to seal a victory at the Amsterdam ArenA, but Azzurri starlet Marco Verratti equalised in the second minute of stoppage time.
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.
"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," the former Bayern Munich boss said.
"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 equalizer."
"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."
The Dutch side will next face Estonia on March 21 in a World Cup qualifier.
Verratti's first international goal ensured that the Oranje remain win-less against the Azzurri in international friendlies, and Italy manager Cesare Prandelli issued advice to the Paris Saint-Germain youngster.
"Verratti has great character and technique, but he needs to be quicker in midfield and be far more tactical. He scored a fantastic goal, though," Prandelli told RAI Sport.
Experimenting ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Malta in March, Prandelli opted for a 4-3-3 formation and he admitted his side still need to get to grips with the system.
He added: "We didn't want to lose and we didn't want to concede.
"Obviously the 4-3-3 system is particular and we need time to work on the details, but I saw interesting things in the first half. We need more character, as we have the players with the right qualities.
"The system we worked more on is the 4-3-1-2, so it is natural we will be more comfortable with it, but we have to do better with the 4-3-3 too."
Prandelli is looking to build his strike force around the AC Milan pairing of Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli and although the two did not produce on Wednesday, Prandelli said he is certain the two will be key to Italy's success.
"They obviously need to work together. Mario knows he's not in great shape and needs to recover, but we have an interesting future to work on," he said.