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Euro 2012 final - Spain beat Italy 4-0 to win Euro 2012

Spanish defender Jordi Alba (C) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2012 football championships final match Spain vs Italy on July 1, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev (credit: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/GettyImages)
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Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the final of Euro 2012 on Sunday night to be become the first team in history to successfully defend their European Championship title.

The historic win for Del Bosque's side means they become the first European side to win three consecutive major tournaments following their success in 2008 and at the 2010 World Cup.

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Both sides made positive starts in what was an energetic opening ten minutes. Much of the talk before kick-off had been about Mario Balotelli, and it was clear he was fired up for the game, clashing twice with Spain defender Sergio Ramos in the first five minutes.

Spain again opted to start the game without a striker, with Cesc Fabregas playing in the 'False Nine' role, and the extra bodies in midfield in Vicente Del Bosque's side were starting to control the action in the opening stages.

And the opening goal came after just 14 minutes when Andres Iniesta played a superb ball through to Fabregas, who beat Giorgio Chiellini before crossing for David Silva, who headed home from six yards to put the 2008 champions ahead.

Italy had struggled to deal with Spain's pace and movement, but they responded well and had several half-chances to draw level as the game passed the 20 minute mark. As the half progressed, they grew in confidence, and were starting to look increasingly likely to score an equaliser, with Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo seeing plenty of the ball.

But for all their hard work, it was Spain who scored next, doubling their lead on 41 minutes when Jordi Alba played the ball to Xavi, then sprinted more than 40 yards to collect the return pass from his new Barcelona team-mate before firing past Gianluigi Buffon.

It was a superb goal from Spain and although Italy had more than held their own throughout the first half, they found themselves two goals down at half-time thanks to two superb goals from La Roja.

Italy brought Antonio Di Natale on for Antonio Cassano at half-time and the substitute nearly scored with his first touch of the game, heading narrowly over the bar shortly after the restart.

Just moments later, Fabregas nearly extended Spain's lead when he waltzed through the Italy defence only to tread on the ball, which allowed the Italian defence to clear the danger.

Italy were being forced to move players further forward, which was leaving them exposed at the back, but they nearly made it 2-1 on 51 minutes when Di Natale again went close.

At the other end, Spain had a penalty appeal turned down after Ramos's header appeared to be blocked by the hand of Leonardo Bonucci.

At the hour mark, Italy brought Thiago Motta on for Riccardo Montolivo, while Spain brought on Pedro for Silva, who was far from happy about being replaced.

Italy were also far from happy just moments later, when Motta pulled up with a hamstring injury and was forced to leave the field, just four minutes after coming off the bench. Coach Cesare Prandelli had already used all three substitutes, meaning his side not only had to come back from two goals down, but had to do it with just ten men for the final 30 minutes.

Italy continued to work hard after losing Motta, but it was clear that they were starting to tire, with the tempo dropping noticeably.

Spain brought Fernando Torres on for Fabregas for the final 15 minutes, with the Chelsea striker looking sharp in the closing stages of the game as the champions played keep ball. In contrast, Italy had little to offer going forward, with the injury to Motta as good as killing the game off.

Spain may have been called "boring" by some during the tournament, but their performance over the 90 minutes in Kiev was excellent, and they wrapped it up after 84 minutes when Torres was played in behind the Italy back four and rolled the ball past Buffon.

And then on 88 minutes, Torres set up another substitute, Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata - who had only been on the pitch for two minutes - who prodded the ball home after the Azzurri defence was again left exposed to make it four and complete the historic win.

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Euro 2012 final - Spain beat Italy 4-0 to win Euro 2012

Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the final of Euro 2012 on Sunday night to be become the first team in history to successfully defend their European Championship title.

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