Spain secured a unique place in football’s long history by becoming the first team to win three successive major tournaments when beating Italy 4-0 in the final of Euro 2012 at Kiev’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium.
Extending their incredible record of not conceding a goal in knockout football since the 2006 World Cup – a run that now stands at almost 1000 minutes – Spain added to their triumphs at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup with their crowning achievement: a comprehensive victory secured by three wonderfully-constructed goals that were true to the team’s trademark style, and a late fourth to ensure the biggest margin of victory ever seen in a final at this tournament.
This was a night when Spain’s dominance of international football became more absolute than any team’s before them. The much-discussed philosophy of ultra-control, tiki-taka, allowed them to suppress yet another opponent; their intricate and wonderful passing overwhelming an Italian midfield that prior to Sunday night had excelled at Euro 2012, but for the last 30 minutes of this game in Kiev was depleted by an injury to Thiago Motta after all three Italian changes had been made.
Having attracted criticism for rather uninspiring victories over France and Portugal in the knockout stages, this was Spain’s riposte: goals from David Silva after 14 minutes and Jordi Alba after 41 minutes were as technically excellent as any seen at the tournament and were vivid vindications of Spain’s approach. The closing stages were a procession, Xavi teeing up substitute Fernando Torres with another fine pass for his second assist of the night and Torres then turning provider to square for Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes in his first appearance of the finals.
The pass ensured Torres won the Golden Boot having finished level on goals and assists with Germany’s Mario Gomez but having been on the pitch for only 189 minutes in total. The striker’s goal in Kiev meant he was the only player to have scored in two separate European Championship finals.
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