Spain vs. Italy: Final score 4-2, La Roja crowned Under-21 champs again

Alex Grimm

Italy fired back after an early Spain goal and were the victims of a poor penalty call, but never really looked like they had a chance to stop the now back-to-back Under-21 champs.

In similar fashion to the senior Euros last summer, Spain have dispatched of a talented, but ultimately inferior Italy squad to become the European Under-21 Champions. Also like the senior team, they're now back-to-back champions.

Italy did well to equalize after Spain's opening goal and were unfortunate to concede a soft penalty in the first half, but they never looked like they had the talent to match up with Spain. La Roja were even better than the 4-2 final score indicates.

Some very poor defending allowed Thiago Alcantara to score the first of his three goals just six minutes into the match. Isco and Alvaro Morata played a beautiful one-two combination on the left wing before Morata lofted a cross toward the back post. Luca Caldirola looked to have the play covered, but inexplicably stood still and allowed Thiago to drift away from him, then direct a free header into the back of the net.

Italy's equalizer, four minutes later, was an impressive one. It came on a long ball over the top, one of the only ways the Azzurri were able to generate chances. Matteo Bianchetti set it up with a lofted ball toward Ciro Immobile, who did well to hold off Inigo Martinez and chip the ball over David De Gea.

La Roja didn't stay level with Italy long. Caldirola made the biggest error again on Thiago's second, misjudging a lofted pass from Koke that Thiago picked up and shot past Francesco Bardi. In the 37th minute, Spain got a fortunate penalty when Giulio Donati cleanly picked the ball off Christian Tello's feet, but the referee thought he saw contact. Thiago buried the penalty for his hat trick, making it 3-1, and the match was all but over.

Spain added their fourth through a much more legitimate penalty in the 66th minute, which Isco converted. Italian substitute Fabio Borini scored a great goal from outside the box in the 79th minute to make the score a bit less embarrassing, but it certainly didn't give his team much of a lifeline. Spain held on comfortably to lift the title.

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