Spain made history as they became the first team to lift three major international tournaments in a row after beating Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
Goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata proved Spain are not as boring as most critics have suggested. They also equalled Germany’s record of three Euro titles.
It was not only an incredible performance from Spain’s talented midfield, but the La Roja dominated in all areas from the start—denying any clear-cut chances to Italy to score.
Italy were helpless as Spain piled on the goals. AFP Andres Iniesta released Cesc Fabregas on the right to cross in for Silva, who sent a crashing header past Gianluigi Buffon to give Spain the lead in the 14th minute.
It was then the turn of Barcelona’s new recruit Jordi Alba to score. Passmaster and Spain’s ‘Architect’ Xavi Hernandez sent a defence splitting pass for the left-back to score his first international goal as he coolly slotted in.
History repeated itself as Torres—the man who scored in the final of Euro 2008– collected another Xavi pass and calmly beat Buffon.
Italy’s loss turned to humiliation as Torres then pulled one back for Mata to score in an empty net.
Maybe Spain would not have scored two more goals at the end if Italy had not been reduced to 10 men after their Thiago Motta picked up an injury after Cesare Prandelli had made his three changes.
Italy’s strikers Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli were reduced to strikes from outside the box. The former took a finesse shot from the corner of the box but it was easy for Iker Casillas to collect.
The Azzurri enjoyed an attacking spell immediately after the first goal, but were unable to find the final pass against a resolute Spanish defence. It was disappointing especially after Italy enjoyed 53% of the possession in the first 30 minutes of the match.
Antonio di Natale, who scored against Spain in the group stage, came on for Cassano at the start of half-time and a had a couple of chances to put Italy back in the match.
He rose highest to head towards the goal, but his attempt fizzed above the bar before having another attempt which was beaten away by Casillas.
But Spain could have put the match to bed before those chances. Fabregas danced into the box and tried to set up the many Spanish players in the box, but it was hacked away by Italy.
Sergio Ramos’ header then struck Leonardo Bonucci’s hand in the box but the referee waved away the appeals for a penalty.
Substitute Pedro also had a chance but he was marginally offside after being put in by Alba.
Italy were not giving up though, with Andrea Pirlo going close with a freekick before Balotelli again shot over the bar.
But after the killer blows in the second half, there was no chance the world champions would lose it.
Ramos tried to turn on the style late in the game with a back heel but Buffon was there to save a bit of embarrassment.
At the end of the whistle though, there was only one team celebrating as a tearful Italian line-up collected their silver medals.
On their way to victory, Spain also broke the record for the highest number of goals scored in a European Championship final.