KIEV, Ukraine — The defence was impenetrable. The offence was unstoppable. Simply put, it was another Spanish party on the international stage.
Spain won its third straight major soccer title Sunday, routing Italy 4-0 in the European Championship final and making it look all too easy.
David Silva and Jordi Alba scored first-half goals, and substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata added two more in the final minutes as the Spanish passing game worked its magic against the Italians at the Olympic Stadium.Silva headed in a high shot in the 14th minute off a pass from Cesc Fabregas. And Alba added another in the 41st, picking up a beautiful through ball from Xavi Hernandez and shooting past Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Torres, who came on for Fabregas in the 75th minute, added the third goal with an easy finish and Mata really put the game away in the 88th, knocking in a pass from Torres.
Spain won the Euro 2008 title four years ago in Vienna and followed that up with the World Cup title in Johannesburg two years ago.
Not only has Spain won every knockout game since losing to France in the second round of the 2006 World Cup, but goalkeeper Iker Casillas hasn’t allowed a goal in that 10-game span. The last player to beat him is such an important match was Zinedine Zidane, and he retired after that tournament.
Spain was the favorite heading into the match, but also seemed primed for a loss after being held to a 1-1 draw by the Italians in their opening Group C match. Spain, which has been experimenting with a lineup that excludes a recognized striker, needed a penalty shootout to reach the final after a 0-0 tie with Portugal in the semi-finals.
The controversial lineup, which Spain coach Vicente del Bosque again employed on Sunday, is akin to playing in the Super Bowl without a running back. Sure, you can still score touchdowns, but you give up on the chance for a game-breaking play.Spain did just fine without the strikers, but they did even better when Torres came on.
But as good as the play was up front for Spain, it was the steady hands of Casillas at the back that likely preserved the victory.
Casillas made a point-blank save on a shot from Antonio Di Natale at the start of the second half, and twice tipped crosses out of danger just before the Italians could get their heads to the ball.National post