Spain made history in magical fashion as they outclassed Italy and claimed a successive European crown to add to their 2010 World Cup triumph.

Vicente del Bosque's side staged a compelling claim to be the greatest international side of all time as the Euro 2012 final was transformed into an exhibition with Italy - who performed creditably for long periods - passed brutally into submission.

David Silva's header was reward for Spain's early supremacy and new Barcelona recruit Jordi Alba doubled the lead just before half-time with a blistering run and finish.

Analysis

"We've seen a masterclass today. Spain have been the best team in the world for the last four or five years. They deserved it tonight again, even with 11 v 11. Italy gave a lot of effort, but unfortunately they'd played too many hard games. They felt the pace and Spain, with that superior technique and movement and talent on the ball have run out easy winners. The Spanish have been criticised but they are the best team in the world without a shadow of a doubt."

The scoreline was emphatic at the conclusion but Italy performed with great resolve. Once they were reduced to 10 men after losing third substitute Thiago Motta to injury, however, they were ruthlessly exposed by masters of the passing art.

Fernando Torres emerged as a late substitute to make a powerful impact; steering home Spain's third then setting up Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata to inflict the final wound on a bedraggled Italy.

Spain's virtuoso performance was a decisive answer to a growing band of critics who had forced coach Del Bosque and his players to defend themselves against allegations that they had been "boring" throughout Euro 2012 at the pre-match media conference.

And even Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, in an ill-timed contribution, wrote that Spain "have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative".

Not on this night.

Every quality that has led to them dominating world football since they won Euro 2008 and the World Cup in South Africa two years later was brought to bear.

It was a heartbreaking night for Italy and coach Cesare Prandelli but there was no shame in being beaten by a team of such quality. They can reflect with satisfaction on their work before this chastening evening.

Spain, perhaps stung by the words of criticism aimed in their direction, started with a pace and tempo of passing that the Italians found impossible to live with.

Xavi v Andrea Pirlo

The warning signs were posted for Italy when a long spell of possession ended with Xavi shooting just over - but it was not long before they were ahead.

Cesc Fabregas was employed in the so-called "False Nine" role as Del Bosque played without a conventional striker. The former Arsenal star proved the tactic is a positive force rather than a negative one.

He collected the masterly Andres Iniesta's pass and outflanked Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini before delivering perfectly for Silva to head beyond keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

It was Chiellini's final contribution as he swiftly succumbed to the thigh injury that has been troubling him in the later stages of the tournament and was replaced by Federico Balzaretti.

Italy's response to Silva's goal and the early Spanish onslaught was commendable as Antonio Cassano twice had shots saved by keeper Iker Casillas but a goal of brilliance in creation and execution made their task mountainous.

Alba demonstrated exactly why Barcelona were so keen to bring the graduate of their famous La Masia youth academy back to the Nou Camp from Valencia when he finished a blurring run on to Xavi's perfect pass with a composed finish past Buffon.

Prandelli acted during the interval, sending on Antonio Di Natale for Cassano. Twice he almost got the goal that could have halted Spain, heading just over before bringing a fine save out of Casillas.

Italy's third and final change came when Motta replaced Riccardo Montolivo but Italy's luck was summed up when he suffered a hamstring injury within minutes and the Azzurri were reduced to 10 men.

Spain were now winning with something to spare and Del Bosque took the opportunity to remove the outstanding Fabregas and introduce Chelsea striker Torres for the closing stages.

It was an opportunity he took, adding the final flourishes by steering home Spain's third and unselfishly setting up Mata's finish to round off a spectacular performance.

Live text and stats

 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Euro 2012

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Spain 4-0 Italy FT
(HT 2-0)
  • Silva 14
  • Alba 41
  • Torres 84
  • Mata 88

    Spain

    • 01 Casillas
    • 03 Pique yellow card
    • 15 Ramos
    • 17 Arbeloa
    • 18 Alba
    • 06 Iniesta (Mata 87)
    • 08 Xavi
    • 10 Fabregas (Torres 75)
    • 14 Alonso
    • 16 Busquets
    • 21 Silva (Pedrito 59)

    Substitutes

    • 12 Valdes,
    • 23 Reina,
    • 02 Albiol,
    • 04 Martinez,
    • 05 Juanfran,
    • 20 Cazorla,
    • 22 Navas,
    • 07 Pedrito,
    • 09 Torres,
    • 11 Negredo,
    • 13 Mata,
    • 19 Llorente

    Italy

    • 01 Buffon
    • 03 Chiellini (Balzaretti 21)
    • 07 Abate
    • 15 Barzagli yellow card
    • 19 Bonucci
    • 08 Marchisio
    • 16 De Rossi
    • 18 Montolivo (Motta 56)
    • 21 Pirlo
    • 09 Balotelli
    • 10 Cassano (Di Natale 46)

    Substitutes

    • 12 Sirigu,
    • 14 De Sanctis,
    • 02 Maggio,
    • 04 Ogbonna,
    • 06 Balzaretti,
    • 05 Motta,
    • 13 Giaccherini,
    • 22 Diamanti,
    • 23 Nocerino,
    • 11 Di Natale,
    • 17 Borini,
    • 20 Giovinco
    Ref: ProencaAtt: 60,000
    SPAIN
    ITALY

    Possession

    • Spain 51%
    • Italy 49%

    Attempts on target

    • Spain 9
    • Italy 6

    Attempts off target

    • Spain 5
    • Italy 5

    Corners

    • Spain 3
    • Italy 3

    Fouls

    • Spain 17
    • Italy 9
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+3:14 The match has reached full-time.
    • 90:00+2:35 Federico Balzaretti fouled by Rodriguez Pedro, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Federico Balzaretti.
    • 90:00+2:20 Garcia Sergio Ramos takes a shot. Save by Gianluigi Buffon.
    • 90:00+1:17 Andrea Pirlo challenges Alvaro Arbeloa unfairly and gives away a free kick. Juan Mata takes the free kick. The ball is crossed by Hernandez Xavi.
    • 90:00+0:41 Fernando Torres challenges Federico Balzaretti unfairly and gives away a free kick. Federico Balzaretti restarts play with the free kick.
    • 87:45 Assist on the goal came from Fernando Torres.
    • 87:45 GOAL - Juan MataSpain 4 - 0 Italy Juan Mata scores a goal from inside the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. Spain 4-0 Italy.
    • 86:44 The official flags Mario Balotelli offside. Free kick taken by Gerard Pique.
    • 85:26 Andrea Barzagli restarts play with the free kick.
    • 85:26 Substitution Juan Mata joins the action as a substitute, replacing Andres Iniesta.
    • 85:26 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ignazio Abate by Fernando Torres.
    • 83:08 The assist for the goal came from Hernandez Xavi.
    • 83:08 GOAL - Fernando TorresSpain 3 - 0 Italy A goal is scored by Fernando Torres from inside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Spain 3-0 Italy.
    • 82:30 The assistant referee flags for offside against Alvaro Arbeloa. Leonardo Bonucci takes the indirect free kick.
    • 80:32 Shot from long range by Rodriguez Pedro goes wide of the left-hand post.
    • 80:25 Hernandez Xavi takes a short corner.
    • 78:22 Ramos Jordi Alba produces a cross. The referee blows for offside against Rodriguez Pedro. Free kick taken by Gianluigi Buffon.
    • 77:46 Foul by Andres Iniesta on Andrea Pirlo, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Andrea Pirlo.
    • 77:15 Alvaro Arbeloa gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Daniele De Rossi. Free kick taken by Federico Balzaretti.
    • 76:18 Short corner worked by Hernandez Xavi.
    • 75:53 Andres Iniesta delivers the ball, blocked by Ignazio Abate.
    • 74:54 Substitution Francesc Fabregas goes off and Fernando Torres comes on.
    • 73:57 The ball is crossed by Francesc Fabregas, blocked by Daniele De Rossi.
    • 73:03 The ball is delivered by Rodriguez Pedro, Ignazio Abate makes a clearance.
    • 71:54 Unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli by Xabi Alonso results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Andrea Pirlo.
    • 71:01 Antonio Di Natale is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Garcia Sergio Ramos.
    • 68:55 The ball is swung over by Rodriguez Pedro, Federico Balzaretti manages to make a clearance.
    • 68:01 Centre by Andres Iniesta, Leonardo Bonucci manages to make a clearance.
    • 66:36 Rodriguez Pedro gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli. Direct free kick taken by Daniele De Rossi.
    • 66:14 Alvaro Arbeloa sends in a cross, Federico Balzaretti gets a block in.
    • 64:33 Handball by Mario Balotelli. Gerard Pique takes the direct free kick.
    • 64:25 The ball is delivered by Hernandez Xavi.
    • 62:38 Free kick awarded for a foul by Alvaro Arbeloa on Mario Balotelli. Andrea Pirlo delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, Leonardo Bonucci concedes a free kick for a foul on Sergio Busquets. Iker Casillas takes the free kick.
    • 59:01 Xabi Alonso gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Andrea Pirlo. Andrea Pirlo takes the direct free kick.
    • 58:33 Substitution Rodriguez Pedro joins the action as a substitute, replacing David Silva.
    • 57:44 Mario Balotelli has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
    • 56:50 Foul by Garcia Sergio Ramos on Antonio Di Natale, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Andrea Pirlo from right wing, save by Iker Casillas.
    • 56:00 Substitution (Italy) makes a substitution, with Santos Thiago Motta coming on for Riccardo Montolivo.
    • 54:13 The offside flag is raised against Antonio Di Natale. Garcia Sergio Ramos restarts play with the free kick.
    • 51:55 Foul by Francesc Fabregas on Andrea Pirlo, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed by Andrea Pirlo, Gerard Pique manages to make a clearance. Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Hernandez Xavi by Andrea Pirlo. Free kick taken by Gerard Pique.
    • Correction - 50:41 Antonio Di Natale takes a shot. Iker Casillas makes a save. Shot from 6 yards from Antonio Di Natale. Comfortable save by Iker Casillas.
    • 50:41 Antonio Di Natale takes a shot. Save by Iker Casillas. Antonio Di Natale takes a shot. Iker Casillas makes a comfortable save.
    • 49:28 The ball is crossed by Hernandez Xavi, Daniele De Rossi gets a block in.
    • 48:20 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa by Federico Balzaretti. Direct free kick taken by Hernandez Xavi.
    • 47:24 Alvaro Arbeloa fouled by Federico Balzaretti, the ref awards a free kick. The ball is sent over by Hernandez Xavi, Garcia Sergio Ramos takes a shot. Blocked by Leonardo Bonucci.
    • 46:33 Effort from outside the penalty area by Francesc Fabregas goes wide left of the target.
    • 45:44 Centre by Ignazio Abate, Header from deep inside the area by Antonio Di Natale goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
    • 45:27 Ignazio Abate crosses the ball, blocked by Ramos Jordi Alba.
    • 45:01 The referee starts the second half.
    • 45:01 Substitution Antonio Di Natale joins the action as a substitute, replacing Antonio Cassano.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+1:06 The referee blows for half time.
    • 44:02 Free kick crossed right-footed by Hernandez Xavi, Andrea Barzagli makes a clearance. David Silva takes a shot. Save made by Gianluigi Buffon.
    • 44:02 Booking The referee shows Andrea Barzagli a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
    • 43:59 Free kick awarded for a foul by Andrea Barzagli on Andres Iniesta.
    • 43:13 Shot from 25 yards from Riccardo Montolivo. Save by Iker Casillas.
    • 40:31 Hernandez Xavi provided the assist for the goal.
    • 40:31 GOAL - Ramos Jordi AlbaSpain 2 - 0 Italy Ramos Jordi Alba finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Spain 2-0 Italy.
    • 38:35 Unfair challenge on David Silva by Federico Balzaretti results in a free kick. Hernandez Xavi takes the free kick.
    • 37:57 Mario Balotelli produces a right-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.
    • 37:40 The ball is crossed by Ramos Jordi Alba, Andrea Barzagli makes a clearance.
    • 34:45 The referee blows for offside. Andrea Barzagli takes the indirect free kick.
    • 34:26 Alvaro Arbeloa sends in a cross.
    • 32:36 David Silva gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Federico Balzaretti. Direct free kick taken by Federico Balzaretti.
    • 32:06 Antonio Cassano takes a shot. Iker Casillas makes a save.
    • 28:30 David Silva concedes a free kick for a foul on Daniele De Rossi. Shot comes in from Andrea Pirlo from the free kick.
    • 28:12 Antonio Cassano takes a shot. Iker Casillas makes a save.
    • 26:12 Centre by Federico Balzaretti, save by Iker Casillas.
    • 25:13 Mario Balotelli concedes a free kick for a foul on Garcia Sergio Ramos. Garcia Sergio Ramos takes the direct free kick.
    • 24:30 Riccardo Montolivo restarts play with the free kick.
    • 24:30 Booking Gerard Pique is shown a yellow card.
    • 24:24 Foul by Gerard Pique on Antonio Cassano, free kick awarded.
    • 23:41 Centre by Ignazio Abate, David Silva manages to make a clearance.
    • 21:48 The ball is sent over by Claudio Marchisio, clearance by David Silva.
    • 20:30 Substitution Federico Balzaretti is brought on as a substitute for Giorgio Chiellini.
    • 19:41 A cross is delivered by Xabi Alonso.
    • 19:31 The ball is sent over by Xabi Alonso.
    • 17:44 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Andrea Pirlo, Iker Casillas makes a save.
    • 17:09 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Andrea Pirlo, clearance by Garcia Sergio Ramos.
    • 15:57 Corner taken by Andrea Pirlo from the left by-line, save made by Iker Casillas.
    • 14:50 Alvaro Arbeloa concedes a free kick for a foul on Mario Balotelli. Andrea Pirlo fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick.
    • 13:23 Assist by Francesc Fabregas.
    • 13:23 GOAL - David SilvaSpain 1 - 0 Italy David Silva grabs a headed goal from close range. Spain 1-0 Italy.
    • 13:22 Francesc Fabregas sends in a cross,
    • 9:20 Andres Iniesta takes a shot. Blocked by Giorgio Chiellini. Hernandez Xavi produces a right-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.
    • 9:17 Hernandez Xavi takes a shot. Andrea Pirlo gets a block in.
    • 7:41 Ramos Jordi Alba delivers the ball.
    • 6:52 Corner from the right by-line taken by Hernandez Xavi, Garcia Sergio Ramos produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.
    • 6:24 A cross is delivered by Ramos Jordi Alba, clearance made by Giorgio Chiellini.
    • 5:00 Foul by Daniele De Rossi on Hernandez Xavi, free kick awarded. Strike on goal comes in from Garcia Sergio Ramos from the free kick.
    • 1:55 Foul by Xabi Alonso on Ignazio Abate, free kick awarded. Ignazio Abate takes the direct free kick.
    • 1:27 Andrea Pirlo has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses right.
    • 0:21 Garcia Sergio Ramos gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli. Direct free kick taken by Andrea Pirlo.
    • 0:00 The match has kicked off.

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