Spain turned on the style to become the first nation to retain the European Championship with a 4-0 victory over Italy in Kiev.

With, by some distance, their best performance of the competition, Spain put away an admirable Italian side with first-half goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba, before Fernando Torres and Juan Mata put a cruel slant on the score-line late on. Italy had given as good as they'd got for much of an engaging contest, but were exposed by some scintillating passing and movement from a Spanish side at their glorious best. Italy's hopes of getting back into the match were quashed after their final substitute, Thiago Motta, was forced off injured, leaving Cesare Prandelli's side to play out the final 30 minutes with 10 men.

It had been a fitting performance, though, for Spain to complete a historic triumph; becoming the only country to have won three major competitions back to back.

Accusations of Spain being boring at Euro 2012 had frankly been ludicrous, but there was little doubt that their superiority had been more controlled than spectacular up until Sunday's final. From the off at the Olympic Stadium in Ukraine's capital, La Roja looked like a team who had come to make history in style.

Spain's passing and movement was at a higher tempo that it had been at almost any point in the tournament as they forced Italy to defend manfully early on. Andres Iniesta had been vital to the Spanish throughout this competition as his ability to run at the opposition added a crucial extra element to their incisive passing play.

There was little surprise that the man who scored the decisive goal in their World Cup final victory was instrumental in Spain's stunning early rhythm and their opening goal. After a neat spell of passing, Iniesta nonchalantly slid a pass inside Giorgio Chiellini to find the run of Cesc Fabrgas, who chipped the ball back with pace from the byline and Silva did well to control his header past Gianluigi Buffon.

Coming just 14 minutes in and with Spain playing imperiously, many a lesser team would have simply fallen apart. It is to Italy's credit, that they responded with the same belief and positivity that have been hallmarks of their play throughout the competition.

They were having no little impression, too, as Spain dropped deep allowing Andrea Pirlo to start influencing proceedings. It was the midfield maestro striding gainfully forward into space who laid the ball square to Antonio Cassano to have a fierce drive that Iker Casillas did well to parry away.

But as much as Italy were very much still in the game, whenever Spain turned up the pace they looked like they could inflict further damage on a Italian back line having to be focus at full capacity.

That's exactly what happened as Spain picked apart italy's defense to double their lead four minutes before the break.

Inside his own half, Alba laid it off to Xavi and then just set off on a relentless surge down field. His soon-to-be Barcelona teammate found him with a typically perfectly weighted pass that split Italy's center backs wide open and Alba calmly slotted the ball past Buffon at the near post.

It had been a hammer blow to Italy and was perhaps harsh given that they had achieved the remarkable feat of having more possession in the opening 45 minutes. The Azzurri were certainly playing an active part in a thrilling spectacle. Riccardo Montolivo threatened to snatch a goal back before the break with a snap shot from edge of area that Casillas blocked away.

Italy continued in commendable fashion to try and drag themselves back into the game at the start of the second half. Antonio Di Natale, who scored with his first involvement in the sides' opening fixture, almost repeated the trick. The Udinese striker, on for Cassano at the break, should have done better with a header from 12 yards that drifted over the top from Ignazio Abate's cross.

The lively 34-year old was in the thick of the action just five minutes later as his shot on the turn was well blocked by Casillas after a fine reverse ball from Montolivo.

Spain continued to look ominously dangerous at the other end. Fabregaas forced a save from Buffon and then La Roja were unlucky not be awarded a penalty after Leonardo Bonucci handled Sergio Ramos' header.

That let off was one of the only things that went Italy's way on the night. Chiellini had already been forced off injured in the first half and then Thiago Motta pulled a hamstring just minutes after replacing Riccardo Montolivo. With all three substitutions already made, Italy were forced to try and pull off an already daunting task with a man fewer.

That handicap effectively killed off the contest as Spain stroked the ball around against an increasingly tiring Italian side.

All that was left was for Spain to put the final nails in the Azzurri coffin in the final six minutes. An exhausted De Rossi gave the ball straight to Xavi in his own half, and the Barcelona man got his second assist of the game with a pass through to Fernando Torres who side-footed the ball low in to the net off the hand of Buffon.

Torres played provider four minutes later as he laid off Sergio Busquets' through ball to Mata, giving his Chelsea teammate the simple task of sliding into an empty net.

On reflection, Italy and Prandelli should take an enormous amount of pride for what they achieved, and the manner in which they achieved it, in Poland and Ukraine. But it is Spain who will rightfully gain all the headlines for a truly remarkable achievement that ranks them right up there with the greatest teams in history.


Full-Time Highlights - Italy vs Spain by TenMillionSlaves


Spain lifts Euro Cup 2012 by TenMillionSlaves