Retaining the European crown in style
Click to view caption|
Spain's national team celebrate their victory on an open-top bus during a parade in downtown Madrid
Spain won the European championship title in style Sunday after defeating Italy 4-0 in an exhilarating final. Scoring four whopping goals is something no team at this level usually does. The match got underway at 9.45pm at the Olympic Stadium, with the Spanish side -- coached by Vicente Del Bosque -- almost immediately forcing Italy into deep defence.
This victory makes Spain the first team in history to win three major international contests in a row, with wins in both the Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 finals.
Four years ago at Euro 2008, Spain ended a 44-year drought on major titles, beating Germany 1-0 to start a run that has been unmatched by any other team in history.
In 2009, they lost to the United States in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup, breaking a record 15-game winning streak. That loss aside, the Spanish have been nearly impossible to beat in competitive matches.
A year after that game against the Americans, Spain opened the 2010 World Cup with a loss to Switzerland. But they then went on a roll, winning their next six games to finally claim the World Cup title.
It took less than a quarter of an hour for Spain's David Silva to find the net with a header that put La Roja up 1-0.
Jordi Alba scored again for the Spaniards in the 41st minute to give them a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Italy had several chances as the second half got under way, but an hour into play Thiago Motta was injured shortly after coming off the bench and had to leave the pitch, reducing Italy to 10 men with all three of their substitutions already expended.
Spain put on a passing exhibition that exhausted the Cesare Prandelli's squad, and late in play, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata added in the 84th and 88th minutes respectively the two goals that cemented the final score.
Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon were the starting goalkeepers for Spain and Italy, while Fernando Torres was awarded the Golden Boot for his late goal.
Some 64,000 spectators viewed the match live, among them Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.