Update: Spain 4-0 Italy, Final Score
Italy held their own for most of the first 45 minutes of the Euro 2012 final against Spain, but the half belonged to La Roja. The reigning European champions scored a quick opener and reverted to a slow possession game, but they turned on the style with some quick counter-attacking at the end of the half. They're well in control at the moment with a 2-0 halftime lead.
On one particular early move, Spain looked like they might be content to just sit on the ball as per usual, and it might have lulled the Italians into a false sense of security. In the 10th minute, they ended what felt like a minute-long, 40-pass move with a shot by Xavi, which went screaming over the bar. Italy didn't close down at any point during the move, content to sit back and let Spain keep the ball away from the goal.
They also failed to close down Andres Iniesta four minutes later and they were made to pay for it. The Barcelona man started an attack with a brilliant through ball down the left flank for Cesc Fabregas, who beat Giorgio Chiellini to the byline and cut the ball back. David Silva made the perfect run into the box and headed the ball into the back of the net, giving Spain a 14th-minute lead.
Chiellini picked up an injury right around the time of that goal and eventually had to come out of the game. He was replaced by Federico Balzaretti, who is much more of a true left back.
Spain slowed down after their goal, looking like they were going to be content to hold onto a 1-0 lead. Italy started playing a more aggressive game, but never found a breakthrough. Iker Casillas was forced to make a punch on a cross in the 26th minute, then had to make a save on a shot by Antonio Cassano in the 29th minute. Cassano tested him again four minutes later, hitting a 25-yard rip that Casillas punched away.
With Italy playing aggressively and expecting methodical possession play from Spain, the champions struck with a fantastic quick counter. Xavi sprung left back Jordi Alba on an overlapping run and his soon-to-be Barcelona teammate torched the Azzurri defense, then finished past Gianluigi Buffon to double Spain's lead.
Italy played very well for a 25-minute spell in the first half, but their defense was cut up by spectacular Xavi and Iniesta through balls that bookended the period. This is the direct and fast Spain that the neutral viewing public has been waiting for, and their assertiveness has paid off with a two-goal lead.