Italy were always fighting an uphill battle in the Euro 2012 final against Spain, but La Roja were allowed to coast to their third consecutive major title with a 4-0 victory over the Azzurri. Third and final Italy substitute Thiago Motta picked up a very bad leg injury in the 60th minute of the match, sending Italy down to 10 men when they trailed by two goals, effectively ending the game. It wasn't the way anyone wanted to see Spain win their record-setting third consecutive major championship, but they were the much better side for the opening 60 minutes of the match and their victory is well-deserved.
Spain got off to a brilliant start, and their pretty passing was rewarded with an opening goal in the 14th minute. They had been doing a fair bit of just keeping the ball in the middle of the pitch up until that point, but they cut open the Azzurri defense with a brilliant Andres Iniesta through ball. Cesc Fabregas ran onto it and cut the ball back for David Silva, who headed into the back of the net.
The Italians picked up the pace when they went down a goal and looked very good for most of the first half, but their defense was taken apart just before halftime. Xavi provided the assist on Jordi Alba's brilliant 41st minute goal, with Andrea Barzagli aiding the goal with some poor defending. He failed to make a decision to either attempt to catch Alba offside or back up, instead standing still as Alba blew by him on Xavi's through ball, then finished off the move to give his side a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
Italy were forced to make a change due to injury in the first half with Federico Balzaretti replacing Giorgio Chiellini shortly after the Silva goal. Cesare Prandelli made another substitution at halftime, bringing on Antonio Di Natale for a very tired Antonio Cassano. That move paid off immediately in the 46th minute, when Di Natale headed a cross just over the bar. Five minutes later, he forced Iker Casillas into an excellent save.
In between those two shots, Leonardo Bonucci got away with a handball in the box that kept Italy's hopes of coming back alive, if only briefly. The ball bounced up into his raised hand following a free kick, and the Azzurri were lucky that a penalty was not granted.
It didn't take long at all for their luck to run out completely. In the 56th minute, Prandelli made his fourth and final substitution by bringing on Thiago Motta for Riccardo Montolivo. Four minutes later, Motta went down in a heap on a run forward with the ball, appearing to tear his hamstring. He was obviously unable to continue, forcing Italy, while 2-0 down, to finish the last 30 minutes of the match with 10 men. This was essentially the end of the game and completely took away any chance of an Italy comeback.
Spain did a lot of passing the ball in circles, showing a bit of mercy and understanding for their opponents' situation, but they still managed to get a goal for their much-maligned former superstar. Fernando Torres came on as a substitute and bagged a goal in the 84th minute, finishing calmly off of a brilliant through ball by Xavi. Juan Mata also came on as a substitute and was set up for a goal by Torres, his club teammate, who gifted him a tap-in with a great pass.
The finish was an anti-climactic one and Italy were robbed of a chance to fight their way back into the match by a freak injury, but there's no taking anything away from Spain. They were well on top for the entire match, and it would have been very surprising if the Azzurri managed to fight their way back into the game. Vicente del Bosque's side were fantastic on Sunday night and have cemented their place as one of the greatest international sides of all time.