Spain claim victory in vintage style
The victory in an excellent final full of attacking intent meant they become the first team to win back-to-back European Championships – either side of their maiden World Cup triumph in 2010.
Spain attacked from the start and went ahead after 14 minutes with a David Silva header and doubled the lead four minutes before halftime when left back Jordi Alba galloped past a frozen Italian defence onto a precise Xavi pass before planting a confident shot beyond Gianluigi Buffon.
Italy’s slim hopes of a comeback disappeared when third substitute Thiago Motta pulled a hamstring, leaving his side down to 10 men for the final half-hour.
Spain cemented their status as soccer’s global superpower in vintage style by thrashing an overwhelmed Italy 4-0 to retain their European championship title on Sunday.
Record- Sunday’s win also beat the victory margin Helmut Schoen’s West Germany side recorded for a Euro final with their 3-0 win over the Soviet Union in 1972.
Two years later Schoen led West Germany to a World Cup triumph, a unique double success for a coach until Del Bosque matched it on Sunday.
Torres became the first player to score in two Euro finals and, together with his Chelsea club mate and fellow scoring substitute Mata, became one of a handful of players to win the Champions League and European Championship in the same season.
Other records were eclipsed too as the Spaniards redefined what it takes to be successful at the elite level of the game in the modern age.
Starting without a recognised striker because David Villa was unfit for the tournament and Torres’s form has been erratic, Del Bosque put his faith in midfield magicians like Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Xabi Alonso and the uncompromising Sergio Busquets.
They created the chances for themselves and they knew how to take them too.
Spain’s second goal came from left back Jordi Alba, who burst through a static defence like a midfielder, picking up the ball from Xavi’s pass like Usain Bolt collecting a baton in a relay before slotting home.
Four-times world champions Italy were in danger of losing from as early as the 14th minute when Spain took the lead through a rare header from the diminutive Silva.