KIEV — World champion Spain took its place among the game’s greats when it thrashed Italy 4-0 to become the first team to win successive European Championship titles Sunday.
Goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata gave the world champion an easy victory over an Italian team down to 10 men through injury for the last half-hour.
The diminutive Silva scored with a rare header after a Cesc Fabregas pull-back in the 14th minute before a superb sprint finish from left-back Alba following a pinpoint Xavi pass doubled its lead four minutes before halftime.
Torres, who scored the winner in the final when it won the title in 2008, struck its third goal in the 84th minute before setting up fellow substitute Mata to add the final flourish in the 88th.
Italy had more possession than Spain in the opening half but when it did have a sniff of goal goalkeeper Iker Casillas maintained his astonishing record of not conceding a goal in the knockout stage of a tournament for the 10th successive match.
Spain has become the first European side to win three major tournaments following its success in Euro 2008 and the World Cup two years ago.
The only other team to win three successive major titles was Argentina which lifted the Copa America in 1945, 1946 and 1947 when that tournament was held annually.
Spain, which started without a recognized striker, was all artistry and guile in midfield while Italy, whose own creator Andrea Pirlo failed to shine, was handicapped by having only 10 men from the hour mark after using up all three substitutes.
The third of them, Thiago Motta, only lasted four minutes after replacing Riccardo Montolivo in the 57th before limping off with a hamstring injury.
Italy went close twice through second half substitute Antonio Di Natale but Mario Balotelli, the two-goal hero of its 2-1 semifinal win over Germany, rarely looked like scoring.
The opening goal came when Andres Iniesta split the Italy defense with an incisive pass to Fabregas who outpaced Giorgio Chiellini to get to the byline where he pulled the ball back to Silva who flashed his header past the helpless Buffon.
The second came when Alba tore past the static Leonardo Bonucci and planted a perfect left foot shot past Gianluigi Buffon. Torres then ran through to score the third after another Xavi through ball before setting up Mata with a deft flick.Spain erupts in joy
Spaniards are jumping for joy and blasting off fireworks from all corners of the country to celebrate their football team’s historic win against Italy in the European Championship.
Tens of thousands gathered in central Madrid to watch their team beat Italy, marking a memorable run of wins.
Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the 17-nation eurozone and recently asked for a bailout to prop up its hurting banks. But fans say the win erased that misery and proved that the country is resilient.
Antonio Ferrillo in Madrid said: “We needed this win to counteract the suffering caused by the crisis, which seems endless.” — Reuters