UEFA Euro 2012 is over and it finished with an eventful final. It culminated in the crowning of Spain as one of football’s truly great teams. There can be no dispute after Vicente del Bosque’s team secured their third consecutive major international trophy, adding to their wins at UEFA Euro 2008 and FIFA World Cup 2010.
Cesare Prandelli’s Italy played their part in an enjoyable game of football but were undone by era-defining opponents and their own bad luck: an early injury to Giorgio Chiellini and going down to ten men when third substitute Thiago Motta got injured after just four minutes. From there, Spain were home and dry, and they shifted through the gears to put up an emphatic scoreline.
Spain 4-0 Italy (Final)
I’m not going to write a match report, here. There’s no need – we all watched it, we were all in awe and we’ll all read loads of reports tonight and tomorrow that weren’t written by a fat lad who watched the game in Nuneaton while working hard at his day job. Suffice to say that Spain, for all the criticism they’ve taken this summer, were good enough in the final to justify a very deserved triumph at Euro 2012. They were unstoppable, and that’s got to be a worry for the rest of us.
They got started early and never looked back. The persistence of Cesc Fabregas made the first, which was headed into the top corner by David Silva after the Barcelona midfielder hit the byline and cut the ball back under pressure. The second will please Barca fans: new signing Jordi Alba raced onto a superb pass from Xavi and put an ice-cool finish past Gigi Buffon.
With Italy unfortunately down to ten players it was largely one-way traffic in the second half, with Spain totally in control. Fernando Torres, on as a substitute, finished neatly to score Spain’s third of the night and his third of the tournament. That gave him a share of the Golden Boot for the competition, and wouldn’t you know it he only went an grabbed an assist to take the whole shoe for himself. His lay-off and the finish by fellow sub Juan Mata – making his only Euro 2012 cameo appearance at the very end of the final – were as simple as they come.
It was Spain in a nutshell: simple, crisp and brilliant. And they’re going to be cast-iron favourites for FIFA World Cup 2014 as well, and rightly so.