Soccer / Euro 2012 / Spanish Fly Past Italians to Win It All

Silva, Alba slot home first-half goals as world champs never break a sweat.

Spain rediscovered its magic on Saturday to beat ailing Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final, and with that victory it became the first nation to win three big soccer titles in a row.

David Silva (14th ), Jordi Alba (41st ), Fernando Torres (84th ) and Juan Mata (88th ) were on target as Barcelona midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta pulled the strings in midfield, in their usual commanding style, after some slightly below-par performances earlier in the tournament.

Spain became the first team to get a big-event hat-trick following titles at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. With the biggest winning margin in a final, Spain is the first to win back-to-back Euro titles and matched Germany's record three continental titles, the first being in 1964.

Italy, which had held Spain 1-1 in their opening group match and made a surprise run to the final with a 2-1 victory over Germany in the semis, failed to end a 44-year drought, since its only Euro trophy in 1968. The Azzurri were down to 10 men for the final half hour as Thiago Motta was stretchered off, injured four minutes after coming on, and coach Cesare Prandelli had already made all three substitutions.

Spain took a commanding 2-0 half-time lead as Vicente Del Bosque fielded a line-up without a recognized striker, with Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas in a strengthened midfield, just as in the 1-1 group draw with Italy on June 10.

Italy saw Ignazio Abate back from injury at right-back for Federico Balzaretti, and Cesare Prandelli's side was pinned back from the opening whistle.

Spain took the lead in the 14th minute, shortly after Sergio Ramos and Xavi had aimed high. Iniesta sent a surgical pass into the back of the Italian defense into the path of Cesc Fabregas, who shook off Giorgio Chiellini and crossed shortly before the touchline for Silva, to send a thumping header into the roof of the net.

Shortly before halftime, the left-back Alba fed Xavi in midfield, raced down the pitch and got a perfect pass back to beat Gianluigi Buffon with a deft left-footer.

Strip protest

Prior to the match, Ukrainian women protested the presence of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Euro 2012 final by stripping their clothes off and shouting insults at his authoritarian regime.

The six members of the shock protest group Femen conducted the topless demonstration on the entrance steps of Kiev's Olympic Stadium, hours before the final between Italy and Spain. Some of the women had written "KGB", the initials of the Belarusian secret police, on their torsos.

Others waved police clubs and shouted "Creating history together!" - which is the official slogan of the Euro 2012 championship.

Ukrainian police carried the women away from the stadium entrance minutes after they began their protest.

Lukashenko is banned from entering most developed nations because of his government's repression of political opposition and independent media.