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Spain reign again

EURO 2012 FINAL

Spain 4-0 Italy

Spain became the first nation to win three tournaments in a row, as first half goals from David Silva (pictured) and Jordi Alba set them up for victory.

Italy played the last 30 minutes of the game with 10 men when, having already used their three substitutions, Thiago Motta pulled up with a hamstring injury. 

It was left to Fernando Torres to secure victory with a third goal late on, and Torres set up the fourth for fellow substitute Juan Mata.

First half

Italy created the first chance of the game in the second minute, but Andrea Pirlo shot well wide then, five minutes later, Sergio Ramos headed over from a Spain corner.

The reigning champions ended a good spell of possession and pressure when Xavi fired just over the bar from the edge of the box, before Spain broke the deadlock in the 14th minute. A superb move saw Andres Iniesta slot the ball through to Fabregas, who got to the byline and cut the ball back for SILVA to head into the far corner. 

Italy were forced to make an early change when Gorigio Chiellini pulled up injured and was replaced by Federico Balzaretti. 

On 26 minutes, a good move down the left by Italy ended with Iker Casillas stretching to tip the ball away from Mario Balotelli as he was about to head in the equaliser.

Italy were causing Spain some problems. Antonio Cassano cut inside and his low shot was saved, Casillas got down to block Cassano's powerful strike, and Balotelli fired over.

But Spain doubled their lead in the 41st minute. Alba sprinted forward, Xavi picked him out with a perfect through pass, and ALBA slotted in Spain's second.

Second half

Italy made a change at half-time, bringing on Antonio Di Natale in place of Cassano, and Di Natale almost pulled a goal back in the first minute of the second half, but headed just over the bar.

Fabregas shot wide a minute later, then caused panic in the Italian six yard box as he cut inside and almost poked the ball past Gianluigi Buffon, but Italy were able to clear.

Di Natale was presented with a great chance six minutes into the second half but Casillas saved his effort. 

Fabregas had an opportunity to add a third Spain goal when he found space in the box, but the pass to him caught his heel and the chance was lost.

Balotelli went close, then Italy were reduced to 10 men when Motta pulled his hamstring four minutes after coming on as a substitute. 

That meant Italy spent the final 30 minutes of the game struggling to get out of their own half, and TORRES wrapped up victory in the 84th minute as he collected a Xavi pass and slotted inside the far post. 

It was 4-0 on 88 minutes, as a Torres square pass set up MATA to make it the biggest win in a European Championships final. 

Torres' goal meant he finished the tournament as the Golden Boot winner. 

SPAIN: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva (Pedro 59), 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).

By Mark Roach

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