It was as easy is it looked tonight for Spain, which defeated Italy 4-0 for the European Championship without even being seriously threatened.
The Spaniards executed their unbeatable game plan to perfection: short, precise passes to advance the ball up the field to control the pace of the game. It was not a surprising method; that’s how they play. It was just overwhelmingly effective.
“We won being true to our playing style, and by moving the ball the way we moved it we knew how to take charge of the match,” said Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the team’s captain. “What we do is difficult but we make it look easy.”
It is Spain’s third straight major soccer championship after going 44 years without major title.
“We were superior to Italy,” said midfielder Xavi Hernandez, perhaps Spain’s most influential player over the last four years. “We played a complete game and perhaps the best of the entire European Championship. We made history.”
Casillas and Spain striker Fernando Torres also made their own histories. Torres became the first man to score in two European Championship finals, and Casillas played in his record 100th victory in international soccer. Spain’s other goals at the Olympic Stadium came from David Silva, Jordi Alba and Juan Mata.
“Tonight, there was no contest,” Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. “They were too superior, so the bitterness at losing this final is only relative.”
Italy’s task was tough enough with 11 players, and it became impossible with only 10 after the 64th minute. All its substitutes were used when midfielder Thiago Motta, who had only been on the field for seven minutes, was taken off with an injury.
“The game was ours after the first goal, but the truth is that we played one heck of a game,” Fabregas said.