VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Spain V Italy (4-0) Euro 2012 final
By Greg Robertson
Hello and welcome to the European Championship football and the Euro 2012 final between Spain and Italy.
Who will light things up and be crowned with all the glory? The much fancied Spain or will it be the Mario Balotelli that brings his A game- again - and an Italy charges into everything?
Either way, we’ll bring you LIVE UPDATES of the match and VIDEO OF THE GOALS as they occur. Refresh your browser occasionally as not to miss any of the action.
LIVE COMMENTARY… Spain 4 Vs Italy 0
FULLTIME: Spain are crowned European Champions of 2012... they have absolutely smashed Italy. All Video up but we'll add the trophy in a little bit.
92 min: Spain will defend their title here.... what a performance.
90 min: Three minutes of added time.
88 min: It's FOUR! Torres is slid through and he feeds Mata who pushes it into an open goal. VIDEO UP.
85 min: Goal Torres! He is pushed through and Fernando just taps it into the corner of the net. Italian job done by Spain. VIDEO UP.
83 min: Got to feel for Italy - they really have given it everything but Spain were too classy. It's at walking pace now and you could just about call it... well, let's put it this way if it was a boxing bout the towel would have been thrown in.
79 min: Spain absolutely carving Italy up with crisp, precision passing... right the way through the heart of the defence and it's Pedro free, open in front of goal and he misses! Luck for him the flag went up too for offside.
77 min: Spanish fans bursting out with 'Ole' every pass their team makes... and there's plenty. The Italians are down to a crawl and out on their feet.
75 min:Alonso strides forward with Pedro and Fabregas coming down the right and the ball swinging in to be cleared... Busquets slides otherwise he'd have a chance to strike,,,, and here comes Fernando Torres for Spain, replacing Fabregas.
71 min: Any Italians out there with the ability to produce miracles? Spanish fans are beginning the party...
69 min: Spain with plenty of room to move and they are just keeping the ball... Casillas at the back even gets a touch as they spread it the entire length of the pitch, suddenly the foot goes down and Pedro with a dangerous ball in and a rushed clearance from the Italians.
66 min: Spain in the attacking ball... pass, pass, pass... pass, turn, pass, pass, pass.... pass... pass... and that's all they need to do up against 10 men with a two goal lead.
65 min: Balotelli shut down as three players swarm and bundle him over... free kick some distance out... Pirlo with another free kick wasted and over-hit... geez, I'd pull him off the dead ball situations as he's had a disaster so far. Looks like Motta WILL NOT COME BACK AND ITALY ARE DOWN TO 10 MEN!
61 min: Motta goes down clutching a hamstring... this may be huge if he can't play on as Italy have used all three subs. He's being stretchered off now and we'll keep you updated.
58 min: Balotelli with a nice turn find Di Natale and he in turn is fouled... free kick in a dangerous spot on the edge of the area on the angle. The penalty is packed with plenty.... Pirlo with a high bender, Casillas with the punch clear... 10 seconds later Balotelli strikes wide. Silva being replaced by Rodriguez for Spain.
56 min: Pirlo with a lob through ball looking for Di Natale... slightly over-hit. What a difference Di Natale has made since coming on at the break. Motta is Italy's third and final change replacing Montolivo.
52 min: Casillas saves Spain! WOW, Di Natale sent through and it's one-on-one with the shot being batted away. Magical stuff from the keeper.
49 min: Ohhh Fabregas finds a wriggle through the defence and it's Iniesta who nearly makes it three... only the scrambling Abate keeping that goalmouth scramble out. Ohhhh clear handball as the ball bounces from Ramos's header right into the Bonucci arm. Clear handball and clear penalty and Spain should have been home and dry over the finishing line with that. It's wave after wave of Spain attack right now.,/p>
47 min: Here we are at the start of the second half where Italy has to do something special to turn this around.... Abate tries to do exactly that but his cross is blocked by Alba. Di Natale on as a sub gets a header just over the bar. Great effort and a dramatic beginning to the half. End to end in this open final and Fabregas shoots.... pushing just wide.
HALFTIME All goals NOW UP (click on the video), Spain leads 2-0.
45 min: Yellow card for Barzagli who brings down Iniesta who was free if he wasn't brought down. Spain on song. Free kick comes to nothing.
44 min: Italy in mayhem as Spain attack everywhere... suddenly it's cleared and Montolivo gets the ball bobble to him, smacks it and Casillas batters it away. It's end to end stuff.
42 min: Xavi with no support.... slips it through to ALBA GOAL! He ran through and slid it underneath Buffon. What a run from Alba. VIDEO UP.
40 min: Silva slides between to markers and ohhhh if not for a better first touch would have worked a crack on goal.
39 min: Spain breaks at great speed but the ball in wasn't good enough to pierce the Italian backline.... swings downfield to Balotelli who sniffs half a chance but smashes it high, wide and handsome.
37 min: Bonucci playing a dangerous game as he nearly loses it at the back with Buffon exposed. He gets a little lucky and scrambles it away under huge pressure.
35 min: De Rossi loses it midfield... Spain with a great ball to Alba on the left and the Spanish feed it in with one-twos and flashes off feet but Italy are saved with Silva coming back from an offside position and the flag being raised.
33 min: Cassano suddenly springs up with possession and time and space... he turns and SLAM... Casillas batters the effort from 20 yards away. Great goalkeeping as he gets both hands to it.
32 min: Spanish are pushing Italy back and it's Italy who have to build up right from the back.... Blazaretti energetic down the left, into Balotelli's feet, Pirlo tries the miracle ball and it's a goalkick for Spain with too much juice on the delivery.
30 min: Free kick to Italy well outside the box... Pirlo with a poor effort, a low curling shot that scoots off the surface and wide of the Spanish post.
28 min: Spain pushing it... De Rossi steals it , Cassano down the left and cuts it back onto his right to fire one but it travels through traffic and Casillas gets down low and fast to grab hold of it between his legs.
27 min: Silva with some twinkle-toes on the edge but Barzagli wins and and distributes... Italy break and Balzaretti with a beautiful cross looking for Balotelli and Casillas does well to come and get a punch to it.
25 min: Pique with the first yellow card of the match with a challenge on Cassano.... not needed at all and that's his name entered into the book iwhtout cause as all he had to do was hold.
24 min: Balzaretti moves down the left and into Balotelli... no way through and Italy push it back to regroup and then Italy finds Abate who delivers first time but the Italians arrive too late on the back post.
21 min: Chiellini limping off for Italy. Balzaretti replacing him... blow for Italy.
19 min: SOME TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, WE'LL HAVE THE GOAL UP AS SOON AS WE CAN. Italy now sparked into attack and you already see their urgency in their play.... Cassano skirts away down the right but he's dealt with.... here is Spain.... no, Italy breaks away with the ball... it's got hectic people... now Spain run it into the box through Iniesta but he's challenged well.
16 min: Wow what a game... Spain really starting to get on top... Balotelli runs over it and it's Pirlo who strikes but the wall does its job.
15 min: GOAL SPAIN! Absolute brilliance from Fabregas as he chases a pass and gets to it, whips a ball in and Silva heads it home! Spain lead 1-0. VIDEO UP SOON.
13 min: Beautiful one-touch football from Spain which starts in the middle of the pitch and ends with a searching short through ball in front of Buffon.
11 min: Spain has turned around the possession stakes and now have had 56% of the ball... Iniesta wriggles through a gap, still Iniesta, off to Xavi who strikes into defenders... OHHHH what a buildup as it's neatly stitched together and Xavi hits his effort inches over. Nice effort with the outside of his right boot.
8 min: Iniesta with a nibble from long range as Spain starts to call the shots - too much traffic in the way for the Iniesta shot.
7 min: Silva arriving back post as there's some clever work down the left from Alba and Spain win the first corner as Italy clears... great ball in and Ramos is up like a salmon with the header but that too flies fast over the crossbar.
6 min: De Rossie takes out Xavi about 30 yards from the Italian goal and we might have the first shot in anger...it's Ramos - who has power - too much, too much height and Buffon eyes it well over the crossbar.
4 min: Balotelli gets into the game for the first time as a long high ball is delivered forward, Ramos has his number though and is strong in the challenge.
3 min: History has Italy to win this as you have to go back to 1920 since Spain beat Italy in a competitive environment. Italy push forward, lose it and it's an Italian back-pedal... Silva wriggles from the challenge and searches for Iniesta but the Italian defence get in the way.
1 min: Spain kicks off and we are undwerway and within seconds Ramos is penalised and Italy have a free kick. Spain turn it over and Iniesta shows a clever little flick but it's well read Chiellini, Italy attacks from a throw, ball falls to Pirlo on his right foot and he has the first crack off the match that sails well wide.
Shaking hands - this promises to be a fantastic final... Torres waiting in the wings again.
Stirring stuff as teams are out on the park and the anthems are going down... the Italian players full of voice... Spain, dead quiet, stern faces. Pedro Proenca of Portugal is in control of the match. Buffon wins. Abate the only change to the Italy side that won the semifinal at right back. Some really large pockets of Spanish fans as the Italy goalkeeper Buffon adjusts his hairclips.
Starting XI's below... as you can see, the Xavi rumours were entirely correct - he's in. Thoughts on style of play? How great it would be to be there live, streaming Italian midfielders getting forward to support Balotelli? Or do you feel they'll sit back for a bit, falling back into old ways? Hmm I don't think that's likely actually. Spain with the pressure on being the team most people have been most happy about having in sweepstakes and long term multi bets.
Word on the football street is that Spain will be playing a 4:6:0 formation... does that jog any memories?
Kick off is not far away so in the meantime watch some Mario Balotelli brilliance as he scores twice to guide Italy through to today’s final against Spain.
Here are your starting line ups…
Spain: Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Piqué, Alba; Busquets, Alonso, Xavi; Silva, Fàbregas, Iniesta.
Italy: Buffon; Abate, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini; Marchisio, De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo; Cassano, Balotelli.
They did it in 1982. They did it in 2006. Now, Italy has a chance to win its third major title amid a match-fixing or betting scandal.
Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon, one of only four players left from the squad that won the 2006 World Cup, was asked before the Euro 2012 final against Spain how they do it.
"There's definitely something special, beyond all the talk that has been made out of it," Buffon said Saturday. "Italians have a sense of respect and love for their jersey that stretches beyond all our limits."
Patriotic fervour certainly plays a factor, as anyone who has watched Buffon belt out the words to Italy's national anthem with his eyes closed has surely noticed.
"That's true, I sing it with emotion - because Italy is my nation and where I was born. I lost two great grandparents at Piave," Buffon said, referring to a World War I battle, and visibly moved as he spoke during a press conference. "That's the least I can do for them."
At the 1982 World Cup, Paolo Rossi came back from a betting scandal ban to lead Italy to the title with a tournament-best six goals. Then at the 2006 World Cup, Buffon was the backbone of Italy's victorious team - while his Juventus squad was almost simultaneously being stripped of two Serie A titles and relegated to Serie B for applying pressure on referees.
A week before the squad departed for this tournament, police showed up at Italy's training camp to notify defender Domenico Criscito that he was under investigation for match-fixing. He was then dropped from the squad.
Another defender, Leonardo Bonucci, was also placed under investigation, but remained with the team, and has become a dependable starter.
Also, Buffon came under attack after it was revealed last month that he made large payments to the owner of a tobacco shop in Parma that is also a betting parlour. While he has not been charged with any wrongdoing, the revelations shook the Azzurri camp.
Still, Buffon has excelled again.
"Even if it's not easy sometimes, we're able to form a solid group," the goalkeeper said.
Italy President Giorgio Napolitano has invited the squad to a reception in Rome, win or lose. He also attended the Azzurri's opener in this tournament, a 1-1 draw with Spain.
"We really felt his presence and his support," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "He showed a lot of confidence in us - at a time when not a lot people had confidence in this squad."
Spain, has a few different pressures - the favourite’s tag one of them. While Xavi Hernandez hasn't made a major impact at the European Championship, Spain's playmaking midfielder knows he still has the final against Italy to change that.
Xavi was named player of the tournament when Spain won Euro 2008, and the midfielder has been regarded as the driving force behind the 2010 World Cup winners' recent successes going into the match against Italy.
But Xavi admits he hasn't had the same impact in Poland and Ukraine, which follows a long club season where he was sometimes sidelined by a nagging calf injury. He was replaced in the semifinal penalty shootout victory over Portugal due to fatigue.
"I feel good, I feel like I've participated in all our victories though I would have like to have had more of an influence in more games but you can't always," Xavi said. "I try to do all I can so the team wins. I do everything that the team needs and nothing more."
The 32-year-old Barcelona playmaker scored a career high 10 league goals this season but hasn't quite carried over the club form into the tournament.
A season that started in August with heated Spanish Super Cup matches against rival Real Madrid only ended with a Copa del Rey triumph.
Spain is bidding to win its third straight major tournament, with West Germany the only other defending champion to have returned to the final after inning the World Cup, in 1976. It lost to Czechoslovakia on penalties.
"This is a fantastic generation of players that have already made history and now we want to continue making history," Xavi said at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. "We want to continue writing this story tomorrow."
The final sees Xavi come up against his Italy equivalent in Andrea Pirlo, whose style and vision on the field has also been credited with leading a revitalized Italy side - one that has played a similar attacking style to Spain at times in the tournament.
"We've been really lucky that we can count on technical players that want to play an attractive style of football, like Pirlo does," Xavi said before defending Spain's play at the tournament. The European and world champions have been criticized for a lack of scoring opportunities and goals.
"We never bore of this style of play, we enjoy playing it and we're in a magnificent situation to achieve even more now in this sport," he said. "We prioritise talent over physical force and fans are identifying with this football, just like us. You can't ask for more."
Coach Vicente del Bosque was certain to start Xavi, which would mark his 114th appearance for Spain, where he has been a regular at all levels for over 15 years.
"It's very difficult for Xavi to play poorly, very difficult," Del Bosque said. "He's one of the key players in terms of marking our style of play. His only worry is the team."