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Euro 2012 final: Spain smashes Italy 4-0!
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 02 Jul 2012

Euro 2012 final: Spain smashes Italy 4-0!


The Azzurri were handed a blow after 21 minutes, as defender Giorgio Chiellini limped off after picking up an injury, with Frederico Balzaretti coming on. Moments later, Gerard Pique became the first player booked for a crunching challenge that sent Antonio Cassano flying. Just past the half hour mark, the Spanish captain was called into action again to parry Cassano’s strong drive from 20 yards out. The Azzurri kept up the pressure in midfield, as viewers were treated to the somewhat unfamiliar sight of Spain playing through the counterattack. However, La Roja proved that they were just as effective on the breakaway, as they doubled their advantage four minutes before half-time through a move started, and finished by Alba. The left-back played the ball to Xavi near the halfway line, surged behind the Italian defence, and latched onto the Barcelona midfielder’s pinpoint return pass to slot his side further ahead.
Spain were jubilant, but had Casillas to thank once again for punching clear Riccardo Montolivo’s attempt from outside the area to maintain their two-goal lead at the interval. Prandelli attempted to respond, hauling off Cassano for Antonio Di Natale and the Udinese striker nearly struck gold with his first touch, heading Abate’s inviting cross narrowly over the bar. That sparked a period of intense Spain pressure, where Fabregas fired just off target before last-ditch blocks from Buffon and Ignazio Abate denied Iniesta from close range.Italy were then lucky to escape a penalty after an apparent handball by Leonardo Bonucci in the box, but referee Pedro Proenca waved play on, to the incredulity of many members of the Spanish team.
Di Natale managed to find space once more in the area, but Casillas was equal to his well-struck attempt before smothering the forward’s chance from the rebound. Shortly after, Silva and Montolivo made way for Pedro and Motta as both coaches looked to shuffle their packs. But Motta, barely three minutes after making his appearance, was taken off on a stretcher clutching his hamstring, leaving Italy a man short as Prandelli had already used all three of his substitutions.

The Azzurri were floored by the setback as Spain, a man up and two goals ahead, began to kill the game off with large periods of leisurely possession in the opposition half. With 16 minutes left, Fabregas was called to the bench as Torres, scorer of the only goal in the 2008 final, came on for the final stretch. At that point, the only question remaining was whether Spain would score again, and they nearly achieved that feat with a bad miss from Pedro, which was tempered somewhat by the offside lag. However, Torres would make no such mistake with six minutes remaining, finishing another perfect through pass from Xavi to confirm his status as the first player to score twice in a Euro final, while Xavi became the first to register two final assists. Mata replaced Iniesta late on as the Spanish parties began in the stands, and they were kicked up a notch two minutes from the end as he stroked home Torres' cutback to make it 4-0.

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