U-21 Championship / Thiago Shines at Teddy for Spanish Boys’ Grand Finale

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Captain Thiago Alcantara scored a first-half hat-trick to inspire Spain to a 4-2 win over Italy in the European Under-21 championship final Tuesday.

The defending champions had little difficulty in breaking down Italy’s unusually hesitant defense as Barcelona’s Alcantara scored with an easy header in the sixth minute, a close-range drive in the 31st and a penalty in the 38th.

Italy briefly lived in hope when Genoa forward Ciro Immobile chipped calmly over Spain goalkeeper David De Gea in the ninth minute to equalize at 1-1. It was the first goal the Manchester United keeper had conceded in the tournament.

Spain’s Isco of Malaga added a fourth Spanish goal from another penalty in the 66th minute when he sent Italy goalkeeper Francesco Bardi the wrong way.

Striker Fabio Borini added a second Italian goal in the 80th minute with a powerful low strike from the edge of the area after a deft one-two with Lorenzo Insigne but it was too little, too late against the superior Spaniards.

Spain’s Thiago Alcantara, top center, celebrating the first of his three goals in the Under-21 Championship final in Jerusalem Tuesday.Credit: AP