Vincente Del Bosque’s men made a mockery of those who had labelled them ‘boring’ during the week with a supreme display of precision passing against the hapless Azzurri. First half goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba put the defending champions in a commanding position before they were effectively handed the game after Thiago Motta limped off just after coming on as a substitute leaving Cesare Prandelli’s side with just 10 men for the remaining half hour.
Fernando Torres and Juan Mata jumped off the bench to apply the gloss and ensure La Roja became the first team to successfully defend the Henri Delauny trophy and record three successive major tournament victories. It proved to be a fitting end to the best European Championships and certified their dominance as the best team on the planet with Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and Xavi the only players to start in all three finals,
Prior to the final Arsene Wenger accused Spain of “betraying their philosophy” by using their tiki-taka to choke the momentum out of games and playing to their desired pace. Their response was emphatic as they tore Italy apart in the first half and took only eight minutes to register their names on the scoresheet. Andres Iniesta exhibited his trademark vision to slide an exquisite ball into Cesc Fabregas to cross from the byline for an unmarked Silva to nod the ball past Gianluigi Buffon.
Italy offered a rapid riposte with a flurry of corners that came to nothing butt once that small burst of momentum died Spain got back into their flow and doubled their lead just before the break with a wonderfully crafted goal. Picking the ball up just inside the opposition half Xavi weighted an elegant through ball to Jordi Alba to outstrip the Azzurri defence with his pace and calmly slot the ball past Buffon for his first international goal.
The Italian’s willl be disappointed that they didn’t test Iker Casillas, who was enjoying an uncharacteristically shaky evening in goal, enough in the first period. Antonio Cassano did bring save out of the Spain skipper with a fierce strike from range before Mario Balotelli fired a wild effort over the bar. Having lost Giorgio Chiellini to injury Prandelli made the drastic decision to use his two remaining substitutes Antonio Di Natale on for Cassano at half time and Motta for Ricardo Montilivo 11 minutes later.
Di Natale should have halved the deficit soon after coming on but header over before poking an effort straight at Casillas inside the six-yard box before disaster struck for Italy. Four minutes after coming on Motta was stretched off with a hamstring injury leaving with only 10 men and an insurmountable task to claw back two goals. Torres then entered the fray for Spain and steered home their third before unselfishly setting up fellow substitute Mata in the dying stages to round off a performance worthy of champions.