Spain dominates in UEFA Euro 2012 final
The greatest team in the history of international soccer lifted the Henri Delauney Trophy after winning the 2012 UEFA European Championship in dominant fashion. Spain commanded play in the final, defeating Italy 4-0 to repeat as European champions. This win was also Spain’s third consecutive major title, a feat that has never been accomplished before, solidifying its place as the best soccer team ever.
Spain scored early in the final, leaving the Azzuri in a deep hole. Multiple injuries to Italy proved disastrous against a Spanish team known for unyielding possessions, as Italy was forced to play with 10 men in the final 30 minutes.
Imua ‘Iolani has a minute-by-minute breakdown of the ESPN broadcast of the final, which featured renowned commentators Ian Darke and Steve McManaman:
6′: A free kick by Spain’s Sergio Ramos from just outside the penalty box soars above the goal.
7′: Spain’s Xavi Hernandez takes a corner, but a strong Ramos header goes over the crossbar. Spain is showing a fast pace and has had multiple chances already.
10′: Darke comments, “An uncomfortable start, this, for the Italians.” A Xavi strike from the edge of the box flies high.
14′: GOAL – SPAIN. Cesc Fabregras cross to David Silva right in front of the goal, who lunges at the ball and heads it into the back of the net.
16′: A graphic on the screen states that Italy has never trailed in this tournament until now.
21′: ESPN had major broadcast problems for a few minutes. Italy’s Giorgio Chellini is subbed out with an injury.
25′: Darke apologizes for technical difficulties, citing severe storms in the northeast of the US. Spain’s Gerard Pique is carded for a hard challenge on Antonio Cassano.
29′: A shot by Cassano stays on the ground and is blocked well by Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
30′: Andrea Pirlo takes a free kick from range for Italy which goes wide of the goal.
33′: A Cassano strike is punched away by a diving Casillas.
38′: Spain nearly has a breakaway, and Ramos, a defender, is the furthest forward. Ramos hilariously has to run back the length of the field to defend. A shot by Italian striker Mario Balotelli from outside the box goes high.
41′: GOAL – SPAIN. After a beautiful pass from Xavi, Jordi Alba breaks away and scores on a powerful strike. Spain takes a 2-0 lead in the first half, and the Italian goose may be cooked. This is Jordi Alba’s first goal ever for the Spanish national team.
44′: Casillas punches away a dangerous shot by Riccardo Montolivo from the edge of the box.
45′: An injured Chellini sits on the bench, dejected.
45+1′: A David Silva strike from outside the box lands right into hands of Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Halftime: Spain 2-0 Italy.
Spain is conscientiously sticking to its regular style of play, and Italy cannot retain possession in attacking third. Surprisingly, Italy leads possession percentage with 52%, but Spain has better chances, which has allowed them to score twice. Now that Spain is leading, they can settle in and control the pace, a dangerous situation for any opponent of the La Roja.
46′: Italy makes a line-up change as Cassano is taken off for Antonio Di Natale, who scored against Spain in group play, the only time Spain has allowed a goal so far in this tournament.
46′: Di Natale quickly gets to work with a header just above the crossbar.
48′: Fabregas nearly has a chance for Spain inside the box, but is smothered by defenders. Darke labels the attempt “football in a phone booth.”
51′: A beautiful strike by Di Natale results in an astonishing save by Casillas. A second-wind chip shot by Di Natale also falls into the hands of Casillas.
57′: Riccardo Montolivo is subbed out for Thiago Motta. Italy has used all of its substitutions.
61′: Thiago Motta is taken off on stretcher after hamstring injury. With no substitutions left, Italy is forced to play with 10 men. This may be a lost cause.
68′: An on-screen graphic says that in its last 48 competitive matches, Spain has a record of 41-3-4, outscoring opponents 105-25. That is the equivalent of winning each match by a score of 2.2 to 0.5. This Spanish is truly the world’s greatest ever.
70′: Italy cannot get the ball out of its own half.
75′: Fabregas is taken out, and Fernando Torres comes in, earning his 98th cap for Spain.
82′: According to Darke, no team has ever only conceded 1 goal in a UEFA European tournament.
84′: GOAL – SPAIN. Lackadaisical defending by Italy allows Torres to break free, who barely gets a shot past Buffon. Torres celebrates giddily. He has scored in consecutive Euro finals.
87′: Juan Mata comes in for Andres Iniesta as Spain’s final substitution.
88′: GOAL – SPAIN. Torres crosses to Mata, who scores on one of his first touches of the match. ”Italy does not derserve this,” laments Darke, a sentiment which McManaman echoes.
90+1′: The fourth official adds three minutes of stoppage time. “Italy needs the final whistle now,” says Darke.
90+3′: Darke announces that Torres, with three goals and one assist, is going to win the Golden Boot of this tournament.
Final: Spain 4-0 Italy. This is the biggest margin of victory ever in Euro final. Casillas adds to his tally of clean sheets with five in this tournament. Ian Darke says is best during the trophy ceremony when he declares, ”It’s not just that you can’t beat them, you can’t score against them, you can’t get the ball off them.” This Spanish team is not only the best team on paper, with the 2008 and 2012 European championships and the 2010 World Cup, but is also the best team on the pitch, with their unrelenting ability to keep the ball and test opposing defenses.