Spain humiliate Italy to win Euro 2012 final

Spain recorded the biggest European Championship final victory ever to crush Italy 4-0 in Kiev and become the first team to win three successive major tournaments.

Spain celebrate their Euro 2012 victory.
Spain celebrate their Euro 2012 victory.

Spain 4 - Italy 0

Goals: David Silva 14, Jordi Alba 41, Fernando Torres 84, Juan Mata 88

It was a fluid start from Spain and they capitalised inside 15 minutes with a goal of utter brilliance. Iniesta took possession of the ball 25 yards from goal and opened up the Italy defence with a perfect through-ball for Fabregas. Fabregas then hit the byline and pulled a fine cross back for Silva, who timed his run excellently and from eight yards out directed his header inside the far post.

If Spain were determined to prove a point, it had been driven home forcefully. Yet Italy's response to going behind for the first time in the tournament was not to cower, but to try and wrest control back. Daniele De Rossi was instrumental with a forceful 20 minutes and, having seen Chiellini taken off with an injury, replacement Federico Balzaretti also provided real impetus down the left.

De Rossi robbed Xavi of possession on one occasion and pinged a pass out to Antonio Cassano. The forward made a smart turn before rolling in a low shot that Casillas saved, and later took the ball from Pirlo before seeing another effort beaten away by the Spain captain. Remarkably Italy had the better of possession in the first half, but they could not find an equaliser.

Four minutes before half time Spain extended their advantage. Alba played the ball square to Xavi and accelerated through the centre of the pitch with a brilliant run to receive the return pass. His first touch to control was exquisite, his second surgical as he placed his shot past Buffon. It was just reward for a player, destined to join Barcelona, who has been consistently excellent throughout the tournament.

Italy reacted at half time when sacrificing Cassano for Antonio Di Natale and the Udinese striker made an immediate impact. Within a minute he had headed over the bar from an Abate cross and, after Spain had a claim for a penalty turned down when a header from Sergio Ramos struck the arm of Bonucci, he should really have put Italy back into contention.

Riccardo Montolivo played a fine pass through to the striker, who appeared to be straying offside, and his low effort was blocked by a fine save from Casillas. The rebound popped out to Di Natale but his attempted pass was also cut out by the Spain captain.

Montolivo was swiftly removed for Motta though and Prandelli's rather reckless decision to make all three substitutions before the hour mark was punished accordingly when Motta suffered a hamstring injury after 61 minutes and was taken off on a stretcher to leave his side facing the might of Spain with only 10 players.

Ruthless in their pursuit of history, Spain exploited their advantage to the full. Having been summoned from the bench, Torres collected a fine pass from Xavi and slotted the ball past Buffon to make it three after 84 minutes. Within four minutes he had unselfishly squared for Mata who marked two minutes of tournament football with a goal of his own.

There was still time for Ramos to saunter up to the penalty area and try and score a backheel as Spain finished in rampant style, leaving their place in football's history books unassailable. Italy, suffering a first competitive defeat under Prandelli, could not fight against a Spanish tide that has had unstoppable momentum ever since that penalty shoot-out win in 2008.

After Spain's third triumph in as many major tournaments the only remaining question is whether they are the greatest of all time. The manner of their triumph in Kiev would suggest an answer in the affirmative.