Football: Spain crush Italy to win historic Euro 2012 crown

Kiev, Jul 1: Spain confirmed their status as one of the greatest national teams in football history by overwhelming Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev to retain their European crown. Vicente del Bosque's team became the first side to successfully defend a European Championship title, as well as the first to win three consecutive major tournaments after their triumphs at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

Accused in some quarters of having lost their ability to excite, Spain produced a thrilling demonstration of attacking football to confirm beyond doubt that this remains a golden age for Spanish football. Andres Iniesta and Xavi were the architects of victory, playing key roles in goals by David Silva, Jordi Alba and Fernando Torres, who teed up fellow substitute Juan Mata for Spain's fourth.

The match-winner in the Euro 2008 decider against Germany, Torres became the first player to score in two European Championship finals, while it was the most handsome winning margin in a final in the tournament's history.

Italy played the last half an hour with 10 men after third substitute Thiago Motta was forced off by injury moments after coming on, as the momentum that had taken the Azzurri past Germany and England in the knockout rounds disappeared. The star of the semi-final win over the Germans, Mario Balotelli endured a fruitless evening, while Andrea Pirlo was upstaged by the pass masters in the Spanish midfield.

Dropped for the semi-final against Portugal, Cesc Fabregas returned to Spain's starting line-up to occupy the 'false nine' role he had taken up against Italy in the 1-1 draw between the sides in Group C on June 10. Italy coach Cesare Prandelli also made one change to his starting XI, with Ignazio Abate replacing Federico Balzaretti at right-back after missing the semi-final win over Germany due to muscle fatigue.


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