As the final match of Euro 2012 started two days ago in Kiev, it to be a good one. The Spanish, reigning champions of Europe and the world were looking to secure their third straight international tournament win. The Italians, winners of the 2006 World Cup, had reached the final after beating Germany, the other favorite to win, by 2 to 1 in the semifinal. Italy played well throughout the match, even managing to keep the majority of possession during the first half. However, Spain simply outclassed the Azzurri while Italy had everything go wrong for them. David Silva sent Spain surging into the lead at the 14th minute with a header off a chipped cross by Iniesta from the goal line. Italy got a good chance to equalize in the 29th minute when Cassano sent an effort through the legs of two Spanish defenders, but Casillas was diligent and gathered the ball comfortably. Italy got made a few more efforts on goal before the end of the first half, but were unable to equalize before the Spanish doubled their lead. Xavi Hernandez’s through ball connected with a charging Jordi Alba and Alba slotted it past Buffon into the net, putting Spain ahead 2-0 at half time.
The second half began as a continuation of the first with both Spain and Italy having long periods of possession and getting chances. However, Italy faced a large hill to climb as no team in an UEFA Championship final has ever come back to win from being down by two goals. Italy’s circumstances went from bad to worse in the middle of the half as Thiago Motta had to be taken off with a hamstring injury. Motta was brought on as a sub just four minutes before, and because Italy had already used all three subs they were now faced with being down a man the rest of the match. Torres was brought on for Spain to replace Fabregas in the 75th minute and after that the match became Spain toying with the Italians. In the 84th minute Torres caught the defense out of position and sent the ball rolling just inside the right post of the net with a first touch of Xavi’s pass. The Spanish side further cemented their victory four minutes later. After a near identical pass to Torres, the striker made a quick pass to Mata and Mata sent it past Buffon into the net. As the final whistle was called, Spain had scored more goals than any other team in a UEFA Championship final, defeating the Italians 4-0.
The Spanish side reached a number of firsts in UEFA Championship history with their title win in Kiev. Spain is now the first side to ever successfully defend a UEFA Championship title. Combining those two titles with their 2010 World Cup win, Spain is now also the first team to win three consecutive international tournaments. Now Spain can look forward to the Confederations Cup in 2013 and the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 for future titles. Other teams, however, will be hungry to challenge the Spanish as they take away both good and bad performances from Euro 2012. The Netherlands will undoubtedly be reevaluating their strategy, being the major underachievers of the tournament. The Dutch team that reached the World Cup final in 2010 exited the tournament in the group stage failing to win a single game. England will be looking to its younger players like Theo Walcott to lead the team to better things after the quarterfinal penalty loss that has become almost a standard in English international football. France and Italy will have good things to look forward too, after the successful rebound from their abysmal group stage exits in 2010, and will be looking toward 2014 as a sort of redemption. Overall, the Euro 2012 will likely mark a new beginning for many of the bigger sides as they look to end Spain’s reign as the best team in the world.