Euro 2012 Final: Spain cruise past Italy to retain the European crown


Italy were coming into the game with an undefeated record against Spain but Sunday's night game in Kyiv brought along a series of premieres: Jordi Alba scored his first ever goal for La Roja, Fernando Torres became the first ever player to score in two consecutive Euro finals and, last but not least, Spain became the first nation to retain three major international trophies: Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012.

Starting Line Ups:

SPAIN

1.Iker Casillas - 17.Alvaro Arbeloa, 15.Sergio Ramos, 3.Gerard Pique, 18.Jordi Alba - 16.Sergio Busquets, 14.Xabi Alonso, 8.Xavi - 6.Andres Iniesta, 21.David Silva, 10.Cesc Fabregas

ITALY

1.Gianluigi Buffon - 7.Ignazio Abate, 15.Andrea Barzagli, 19.Leonardo Bonucci, 3.Giorgio Chiellini - 21.Andrea Pirlo - 8.Claudio Marchisio, 18.Riccardo Montolivo, 16.Daniele De Rossi - 9.Mario Balotelli, 10.Antonio Cassano

Italy had the first shot of the game after two minutes but Pirlo sent it high and wide, a rather unusual finish from the Juventus playmaker. Then Spain started coming forward and defender Sergio Ramos had the first two attempts, a free kick shot and a header, both over the bar. The Xavi came a lot closer from the edge of the area on 10 minutes, his shot whizzed past the crossbar. And then it happened: a quick move from the Spaniards on 14 minutes brought the ball inside the penalty area, the cross found David Silva who headed home into the empty net as Buffon was stranded at the near post.

Italy tried to reply instantly but they were unable to create more than a few corner kicks. Then they had to make the first substitution on 21 minutes, Chiellini limped off and was replaced by Balzaretti. Cassano had the first two shots on target for Italy but both were handled by Casillas. And then Spain struck again, four minutes before the break: Xavi picked out Jordi Alba who had made an unbelievable lightning-fast run into the center of the Italian defence and the left back coolly finished it with a placed finish past the onrushing Buffon.

Coach Cesare Prandelli made a change at half time, Di Natale for Cassano, and the move nearly paid off as the Udinese striker headed one just over a minute after the interval. He had an even bigger chance on 51 minutes, one-on-one with Casillas inside the penalty area, but fired straight at the keeper. The Italian coach decided to risk it all on 56 minutes when he made his third and last substitution: Thiago Motta for Montolivo. The gamble backfired just four minutes later as the substitute was stretchered off the pitch and Italy were down to 10 men.

That was the end for the Italians as Spain took control of the match given the numerical advantage. They even added two more goals through substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata, with both goals coming in the last 10 minutes of the match. Andres Iniesta was elected player of the match as Spain confirm that they are the best team in Europe at the moment.

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