ONE EL OF A TEAM ... Spanish superstars enjoy their historic victory
ANDRES INIESTA hailed Spain’s thumping Euro 2012 triumph as ’magical and unique’.
The midfield wizard reckons their hat-trick of tournament wins will NEVER be matched.
Italy ran out of ideas in a one-sided final as the rest of Europe almost ran out of superlatives for the Spanish.
Barcelona star Iniesta found a way to describe their achievements.
He said: “The truth is, the team today were great and all the players were on their top level.
“Spanish football is living great years. We are very complete as a football side, we have to be proud of that.
"We want to enjoy it. It’s unique. It’s magical. Something that can’t be repeated. We haven’t ignored how great this is.”
It was another win, another exhibition of passing football... and another title.
Spain’s superstars can now add Euro 2012 to their win four years ago — with the small matter of a World Cup triumph sandwiched between the two.
To cap it all off, this thrashing was the biggest win in a European Championship final.
Manager Vicente del Bosque also praised his history boys.
He said: “This match was great for our players as they controlled the game. This success of Spanish football is something historical. This is a great era for Spain.
“We have to look to the future and will now try to qualify for the next World Cup in Brazil.”
Manchester City’s David Silva opened the scoring with a header from Cesc Fabregas’ excellent cross on 14 minutes.
Jordi Alba made it 2-0 before half-time, latching on to a Xavi pass and slotting beyond Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Del Bosque called the Alba goal “perfect” — it was difficult to argue.
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres came off the bench to add a third from another sensational Xavi pass on 84 minutes.
And just to rub it in, Torres then set up club pal Juan Mata four minutes later for the fourth. It was no more than Del Bosque’s team deserved after an exhibition of classic pass-and-move football.
Iniesta is likely to be named player of the tournament today — and he is certain to be on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or.
He added: “Football is my life. My life would mean nothing without football.
“For me, awards are not the most important thing — I’m just happy we’re champions again.
“It doesn’t matter who scores the goals. The Ballon d’Or is not important, either.
“I enjoy what I’m doing and, if people appreciate it, I’m happy.”
This win also proved wrong the critics who labelled Spain ‘boring’ — and those who claimed they were making a mistake by playing without a recognised striker.
Iniesta, 28, said: “We are not here to say that our game is the most beautiful of them all.
“Everyone has a different opinion. Today, we had a great level of play and we were faithful to our style.”
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli admits his side were soundly beaten.
He said: “Spain have made history tonight and deservedly so.
“Even though they do not play with a traditional striker, they cause a hell of a lot of problems.
“We played against Spain in the group stages and drew 1-1, but I thought we were excellent in that.
“We were 100 per cent fit then. Against Spain, you really need to be.
“They completely dominated us. We congratulate a great side.”
Spain could, and probably should have added to their tally in the half as Italy simply ran out of steam. Xabi Alonso, Pedro and Fabregas squandered good chances.
The champions should also have had a penalty on 48 minutes when Leonardo Bonucci handled Sergio Ramos’ header.
After conquering England on a shootout in the quarter-finals and seeing off the Germans in the semis, Andrea Pirlo and co had no answer to the Tiki-Taka of the Spanish maestros.
Italy’s cause was not helped by midfielder Thiago Motta going off injured on the hour — after they had made all three subs. Skipper Buffon said: “Tonight, there was no contest, they were too superior — so the bitterness at losing this final is only relative.
“It was a great adventure. We played against a team of incredible quality.”
Del Bosque added: “We were very lucky. Everything worked for us. We played an extraordinary match.
“We were just faithful to what we’ve done in the past years.”
SunSport columnist Alan Shearer hailed Spain as football’s greatest team.
He said: “No team has ever done this, no team has won three tournaments on the bounce. We have witnessed history. Their movement is incredible and the passing virtually flawless. I don’t think anyone will ever be better than this.
“You can mention the Brazil sides in the 1960s and 70s with Pele — but this is absolutely unbelievable.”
Italy legend Gianluca Vialli said: “It was painful for me to watch. We have to admit Spain are awesome.”
A tearful Mario Balotelli stormed down the tunnel at the final whistle.
The Manchester City and Italy star did return to the pitch to applaud the Spaniards as they lifted the trophy.
Prandelli said: “I said to Mario that these are experiences you must deal with. You have to accept defeat — and make sure it helps you going forward.”
Cities & Stadiums
The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|