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Final: FT Spain 4 – 0 Italy

Final: FT Spain 4 – 0 Italy

Still no striker for Spain, they simply don’t care what you think, and as reigning world and European champions, you can hardly blame them: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva, Fabregas, Iniesta. Subs: Valdes, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Pedro, Torres, Negredo, Mata, Llorente, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, Reina.

Italy replace Federico Balzaretti with Ignazio Abate: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Pirlo, Marchisio, Montolivo, De Rossi, Balotelli, Cassano.
Subs: Sirigu, Maggio, Ogbonna, Thiago Motta, Balzaretti, Di Natale, Giaccherini, Borini, Giovinco, Diamanti, Nocerino, De Sanctis.

14 min: GOAL!!! AND THIS HAD BEEN COMING!!! Spain 1-0 Italy. Absolute brilliance by Fabregas, who after a period of tasty tiki-taka chases after a pass rolled down the inside-right channel. He reaches the byline under pressure from Chiellini, and whips a high ball back into the centre, where Silva, level with the right-hand post, pings an instant header into the top-left corner. What an outstanding finish, and it’s no more than Spain deserve for their high-octane start.

41 min: OUT OF NOTHING, ANOTHER SUPERB GOAL!!! Spain 2-0 Italy. Italy were on the attack, but Spain crowd them out of the ball. They stroke it around the back awhile – then launch what’s almost a route-one style goal for Spain. Well, a route three or four goal, anyway. Casillas launches it down the left. A header. A pass inside. Then Xavi rolls a perfectly weighted pass down the inside-left for Jordi Alba, who has been bombing down the channel and springs clear, slotting a calm, considered finish past Buffon and into the bottom left. A flick of the left boot into the corner.

84 min: IF IT’S A EURO FINAL, THEN THERE MUST BE A TORRES GOAL!!! Spain 3-0 Italy. A delightful finish. Italy fanny around in midfield. Xavi pounces, drives forward, and slides a ball down the inside-left channel for Torres. The Chelsea striker opens up his body and sidefoots a ball past Buffon and into the bottom right. This equals the biggest win in a Euro final – West Germany’s 3-0 win over USSR – while Torres becomes the first player to score in two of these finals.

88 min: THERE GOES WEST GERMANY’S RECORD!!! Spain 4-0 Italy. Torres hares after another Xavi sliderule pass down the inside left. He draws Buffon, before sliding the ball inside to his Chelsea teammate Mata, who clips home. Forget the fact Italy have been down to ten men, Spain were rampant anyway. This has been a majestic display.

SPAIN ARE THE FIRST EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS TO RETAIN THEIR TROPHY, AND THE FIRST TEAM IN HISTORY TO WIN THREE MAJOR INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENTS IN A ROW!!! Spain 4-0 Italy. That was as comprehensive as it gets. Signature performance? Well, they’ve got one now. Italy were unfortunate to go down to ten men, but the game was over by then anyway. Spain were rampant, and are celebrating in the manner they deserve.

Incidentally, here’s a delicious bonus for Spain, who have copped so much flak for rarely fielding a striker: Fernando Torres has won the golden boot. He’s one of several lads on three goals, but as he’s rarely featured, he cops the prize as a result of having played the fewest minutes.

Italy – with several players in tears – go up for their runners-up medals. Mario Balotelli had stormed off down the tunnel at the final whistle, but he’s calmed down and is back with the rest of the squad. Gianluigi Buffon, head held high and smiling, leads his men up. Giorgio Chiellini, whose final was over almost before it had begun, is in floods, poor chap. Fifa president Michel Platini hangs the silver medals round their necks. It’ll feel bitter now, but runners up seemed like a pipe dream for Italy at the beginning of the tournament. They’ve been magnificent.

But they had no answer for this Spanish side, who kept their powder dry for almost the entire tournament, before exploding in spectacularly entertaining style tonight. They trudge up the stairs – winning three trophies in a row takes a fair bit of effort, you know – and receive their gold medals. They crowd round the podium, start jumping up and down with the anticipation of little children on Christmas morning, and eventually Iker Casillas lifts the Henri Delaunay Troophy. SPAIN ARE THE 2012 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS.

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