Monday 02 July 2012
UEFA Euro 2012 Final – Olympic Stadium, Kiev.
Spain (2) 4 – 0 (0) Italy
[Silva (14), Jordi Alba (41), Torres (84), Mata (88)]
Spain: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva (Pedro 57), Fabregas (Torres 75), Iniesta (Mata 87).
Italy: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini (Balzaretti 21), Pirlo, Marchisio, Montolivo (Motta 56), De Rossi, Balotelli, Cassano (Di Natale 46).
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)
Talk about save the best till last. Spain proved to be worthy Champions as they brushed aside Italy to become the first team to defend the European Championship crown. From the off the Spaniards were on the front foot and it was no surprise when they took the lead on fourteen minutes. After a period of possession Iniesta’s pass found Fabregas who outwitted Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini before crossing for Silva to head past Buffon. It wasn’t much of a night for Chiellini who limped out of the Final on twenty one minutes. Italy though did respond to the early Spanish goal and Cassano had a couple of efforts which Casillas dealt with. However, Spain provided a telling blow just before half-time when from a Casillas clearance, Xavi found Jordi Alba on the overlap where the full-back finished coolly to put Spain 2-0 up. Di Natale replaced Cassano at the start of the second-half and almost got Italy back into the game with two excellent opportunities. First he headed narrowly over, before Casillas made a fine save. However, that was as good as it got for Italy. Motta replaced Montolivo on fifty six minutes, but the substitute lasted just four minutes, after he pulled a hamstring and Italy having used all their replacements were forced to play the final thirty minutes with ten men. At this point it was game-over for the Azzuri as they embarked on a damage limitation exercise and Spain were happy to simply keep possession. It wasn’t until Torres was introduced on seventy five minutes that the game enlivened, as the Chelsea striker latched onto a Xavi through ball on eighty four minutes to put Spain 3-0 ahead. Four minutes later, Torres played-in fellow substitute Mata, for a fourth Spanish goal and seal the Golden Boot. Italy were grateful for the final whistle as they had been thoroughly outplayed. Pirlo had not been allowed the freedom of previous games and Italy had no luck with injuries on the night. Nevertheless, Spain were simply different class in the Final. However, what would people have been saying if the game had stayed at 2-0? Would the Final and Spain received the same critical acclaim? Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see in the coming season, if teams will try and attempt to replicate what Spain have done in terms of playing without a recognised striker. It could make for some interesting watching. For now though, Felicidades España, Campeones de Europa 2012