Imperious Spain took their place
among the game's greats in vintage style by thrashing Italy 4-0
to become the first team to win successive European Championship
titles on Sunday.
Goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan
Mata gave the world champions an easy victory over an Italian
team down to 10 men through injury for the last half-hour.
Spain's emphatic triumph means they have become the first
European side to win three major tournaments following their
success in Euro 2008 and the World Cup two years ago.
The diminutive Silva scored with a rare header after a Cesc
Fabregas pull-back in the 14th minute before a superb sprint
finish from left-back Alba following a pinpoint Xavi pass
doubled their lead four minutes before half-time.
Torres, who scored the winner in the final when Spain won
the title in 2008, struck their third goal in the 84th minute
before setting up fellow substitute Mata who calmly rounded off
the scoring with a simple finish in the 88th.
The result was the highest margin of victory recorded in
either a European Championship or World Cup final and Torres is
the first player to score in two Euro finals.
Spain's triumph means Vicente del Bosque is only the second
coach to win a European Championship and a World Cup, joining
Helmut Schoen who did so with West Germany in 1972 and 1974.
Spain's third Euro success also brings them level with
Germany's record after the Spanish also won the trophy in 1964.
"This match was great for our players, they controlled the
game," he said. "After the first goal the Italians became more
dangerous but we kept the pressure, the depth, we are very
happy. This success of Spanish football is something historic."
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli was gracious in defeat adding:
"They made history and deservedly - they have a lot of players
tried and tested at this level and even though they don't play
with a classic striker they cause you plenty of problems."
Italy had more possession than Spain in the opening half but
when they did have a sniff of goal goalkeeper Iker Casillas
maintained his astonishing record of not conceding a goal in the
knockout stage of a tournament for the 10th successive match.
Spain, who started without a recognised striker, were all
artistry and guile in midfield while Italy, whose own creator
Andrea Pirlo failed to shine, were handicapped by having only 10
men from the hour mark after using up all three substitutes.
The third of them, Thiago Motta, only lasted four minutes
after replacing Riccardo Montolivo in the 57th before limping
off with a hamstring injury.
Italy went close twice through second half substitute
Antonio Di Natale but Mario Balotelli, the two-goal hero of
their 2-1 semi-final win over Germany, rarely looked like
The opening goal came when Andres Iniesta split the Italy
defence with an incisive pass to Fabregas who outpaced Giorgio
Chiellini to get to the by-line where he pulled the ball back to
Silva who flashed his header past the helpless Gianluigi Buffon.
The second came when Alba tore past the static Leonardo
Bonucci and planted a perfect left foot shot past Buffon.
Torres then ran through to score the third after another
Xavi through ball before setting up Mata with a deft flick.
Italy's Prandelli said he only wished his team had got more
time to rest after their semi-final win over Germany, played a
day later than Spain's shootout victory against Portugal.
"Against a team like Spain I think you really need to be
good in the tackle and fit. They totally dominated this evening,
we have to congratulate a great side for their victory."
The only other team to win three successive major titles was
Argentina who lifted the Copa America in 1945, 1946 and 1947 but
at a time when that tournament was held annually.
Despite Spain's remarkable achievement on Sunday, their
61-year-old coach Del Bosque has already turned his attention to
winning more silverware and yet more records could tumble.
"There will be more challenges, the qualification for the
World Cup [in Brazil], the Confederations Cup where we will
represent Europe - and we want to do it well."
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