Spain registered the biggest European Championship final victory ever as they cruised to a stunning 4-0 win over Italy in Kiev.
First-half goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba put Vicente Del Bosque’s men in the driving seat before substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata wrapped things up in the final 10 minutes, giving the Spaniards a record third consecutive major championship.
Del Bosque once more chose to start the game without a recognised frontman, Cesc Fabregas retaining his place in the starting XI in the so-called ´false No 9` role, and Spain got into their stride almost immediately as Sergio Ramos and Xavi Hernandez both had efforts that went over the bar.
However, it took them just 14 minutes to open the scoring with a brilliant free-flowing move, Andres Iniesta freeing Fabregas down the right and the Barcelona player getting in behind Giorgio Chiellini to cross from the by-line for David Silva to power a header home.
Italy responded with a succession of corners but were dealt a blow on 21 minutes when Chiellini had to be replaced by Federico Balzaretti after suffering what appeared to be a reaction to the thigh injury that had been troubling him during the tournament.
Iker Casillas then had to be on hand to twice deny Antonio Cassano as the Italians sought a way back into the game, yet Spain’s intricate passing football began to wear the Azzurri down and left-back Jordi Alba demonstrated why Barcelona paid €14m for earlier in the week, doubling the advantage four minutes before the break.
Fabregas was again involved, nodding the ball back to Alba who found Xavi and continued his run before accepting a return pass to go on and coolly slot the ball past the advancing Gianluigi Buffon.
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli introduced Antonio Di Natale for Cassano after the restart and the new man was unlucky to see his header from Ignazio Abate’s right-wing cross go narrowly over.
At the other end, Fabregas wriggled his way into the box only to see the ball run away from him as the combination of Abate and Buffon were able to clear, while Di Natale was again in the action moments later but fired straight at Casillas.
Prandelli made Italy’s final change on 57 minutes, Thiago Motta coming on for the ineffective Riccardo Montolivo, and Del Bosque replied with Pedro replacing goalscorer Silva.
Nonetheless, Prandelli’s early use of his substitutes backfired minutes later when Motta had to be taken off on a stretcher with a pulled hamstring, forcing Italy to have to play the remainder of the match with 10 men.
The Spanish predictably gained the upper hand as the Italians visibly tired, and after Fabregas had made way for Torres 15 minutes from time the Chelsea man got free of the Italian defence nine minutes later to easily beat Buffon.
Italy’s misery was complete on 88 minutes, Torres turning provider when he beat the offside trap and unselfishly squared the ball for clubmate Juan Mata – who had only been on the pitch two minutes after replacing Iniesta – to steer home with his first touch.
It was Spain’s first competitive win over Italy, with the exception of penalties, since the 1920 Olympic Games and the biggest winning margin in a European Championship Final since West Germany beat the Soviet Union 3-0 in Belgium in 1972.
Spain 4-0 Italy
Scorers: Silva 14 (S), Jordi Alba 41 (S), Torres 84 (S), Mata 88 (S)
Spain: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta (Mata 86), Silva (Pedro 58); Fabregas (Torres 75),
Italy: Buffon; Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini (Balzaretti 21); Marchisio, Pirlo, De Rossi; Montolivo (Montolivo 56); Balotelli, Cassano (Di Natale 46)
Referee: Proenca (Por)