1 July 2012

SPAIN 4 (Silva 14, Alba 41, Torres 84, Mata 88)

Xavi should have given Spain a tenth minute lead after a one-two with Fabregas opened up the Italian defence but he blazed over from the edge of the box. It didn't take long for the Spanish to make their superiority count. Iniesta played a fabulous ball inside Chiellini to Mr Disingenuous Fabregas, despite being pushed Fabregas pulled back a cross and Silva got between Barzagli and Bonucci to send a standing header flying past Buffon. Balzaretti replaced the injured Chiellini on 21 minutes. Casillas, normally suspect on crosses, made a confident punch as Balotelli attacked a dangerous Balzaretti cross. Pirlo and Cassano combined for Italy's clearest (only) opening of the half, Casillas denying Cassano with an excellent low save. Spain's second goal was from the Charles Hughes playbook. Casillas punted a goalkick to the half-way line, Busquets headed the ball down to Alba, Alba passed infield to Xavi then turned on the afterburners and raced through the Italian defenders onto an outstanding Xavi through ball and side footed past Buffon as he advanced off his line.

Di Natale replaced Cassano at half time and blew two excellent chances in as many minutes. He headed over an Abate cross then wasted a fantastic disguised pass by hitting Casillas and tamely lobbed the rebound into his arms. Montolivo made way for Motta on 57 minutes and the injury prone semi-Italian limped off with an injury just four minutes later leaving Italy to play out the remainder of the game with ten men. Xavi intercepted from Pirlo as he tried to bring the ball out of defence and fed substitute Torres for the third. Torres laid off a Busquets pass for Chelsea team-mate Mata to score the fourth against a beleaguered Italian defence.

Two days rest before a major final is scandalous. UEFA are a disgrace. Whether Pirlo simply ran out of gas or Spain indeed solved the Pirlo problem is something we'll never know. It was always going to be an uphill struggle for Italy after conceding the first goal. Spain have plagued the sport with the most negative, destructive football of the last World Cup and this tournament but people only remember the final and as an attacking force today they showed up with a vengeance. Where Spain motivated by the criticism of their boring football? The most one sided victory in a European Championship final. At least they didn't dive and cheat their way to victory as they did in 2010. We can console ourselves in the knowledge they will get screwed over by the referees in the 2014 World Cup.

Attendance : 63,170
Assists : Fabregas, Xavi, Xavi, Torres