Spain seal historic Euro victory
Spain made history in magical fashion as they outclassed Italy and claimed a successive European crown to add to their 2010 World Cup triumph.
Vicente del Bosque's side staged a compelling claim to be the greatest international side of all time as the Euro 2012 final was transformed into an exhibition with Italy - who performed creditably for long periods - passed brutally into submission. David Silva's header was reward for Spain's early supremacy and new Barcelona recruit Jordi Alba doubled the lead just before half-time with a blistering run and finish.
The scoreline was emphatic at the conclusion but Italy performed with great resolve. Once they were reduced to 10 men after losing third substitute Thiago Motta to injury, however, they were ruthlessly exposed by masters of the passing art. Fernando Torres emerged as a late substitute to make a powerful impact; steering home Spain's third then setting up Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata to inflict the final wound on a bedraggled Italy.
Spain's virtuoso performance was a decisive answer to a growing band of critics who had forced coach Del Bosque and his players to defend themselves against allegations that they had been "boring" throughout Euro 2012 at the pre-match media conference. And even Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, in an ill-timed contribution, wrote that Spain "have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative". Not on this night.
Every quality that has led to them dominating world football since they won Euro 2008 and the World Cup in South Africa two years later was brought to bear. It was a heartbreaking night for Italy and coach Cesare Prandelli but there was no shame in being beaten by a team of such quality. They can reflect with satisfaction on their work before this chastening evening.