Tue, Jul 03, 2012 - Page 20 News List

EURO 2012: Spain crush Italy to win historic title

TRUE GREATNESS:Spain’s Andres Iniesta and Xavi were the architects as the world and European champions reasserted their credentials as possibly the best national team of all time

AFP, KIEV

Having been eclipsed by Iniesta in recent matches, Xavi proved that reports of his demise are grossly premature by creating Spain’s second goal four minutes before halftime.

The 32-year-old maestro collected a pass from Alba and then delayed his pass supremely, before freeing his future Barcelona teammate to run in and place the ball past Buffon for his first international goal.

Prandelli replaced Cassano with Antonio Di Natale at the interval and the Udinese man made an immediate impact, heading just over from Abate’s center and then obliging Casillas to save after ghosting in behind Spain’s defense.

At the other end, Buffon thwarted Fabregas after the Barcelona man weaved his way past Balzaretti and Leonardo Bonucci, who was lucky not to concede a penalty when he appeared to block Sergio Ramos’ header with his arm.

Italy’s hopes of a comeback evaporated in the 62nd minute when Motta was carried off on a stretcher with an apparent hamstring injury just five minutes after replacing Riccardo Montolivo, leaving Prandelli’s side with 10 men.

The game dipped in intensity until the arrival of Torres, who rolled home Spain’s third from Xavi’s pass in the 84th minute, before teeing up Chelsea teammate Mata for an 88th-minute tap-in.

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