Goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata decorated a stunning victory for Vicente del Bosque's multi-record breaking machine
Viva Espana. Three-times European champions, twice consecutively, World Cup holders, their place in history cemented. And what a privilege it was to watch this glorious coronation unfold first hand.
It was as if all of the criticism they had received pre-match, the ‘boring’ jibes that had jabbed away at their pride, stung them into producing the kind of performance few sides are capable of come the showpiece occasion.
Spain's stunning feats
|1||Vicente del Bosque is the first coach to win the European Championship, the World Cup and the Champions League|
|2||Fernando Torres is the only player to have scored in the final of two European Championships|
|3||La Roja are the first team to win three consecutive major international tournaments|
|4||The 4-0 scoreline against Italy is the biggest winning margin in any World Cup or European Championship final|
|12||They have gone 12 European Championship finals games without losing - their last defeat was in June 2004 to Portugal.|
|100||Iker Casillas is the first footballer to win a century of international matches|
It is easy to delight in their mastery of the technical aspects of the sport, the geometric passing, an ability to create everything from nothing, but the real beauty of this team is that they are exactly that – a team.
In no way are they akin to the largely Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo dependant machines Barcelona and Real Madrid threaten to become. This was as close to the Dutch interpretation of Total Football as there has been. This was something special.
Spain played, as has been the case for the majority of the tournament, without a genuine centre forward. It’s not for some, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger included, and they are entitled to their opinion.
But the deployment of the increasingly fashionable ‘false nine’ - one, who in Cesc Fabregas, would at first glance appear wholly unsuitable to the role, - only adds to their uniqueness, their majesty and their beauty.
The confidence and colour on the pitch was neatly mirrored in the stands by the travelling band of Spaniards, who had decorated and delighted in the streets of Kiev all day long.
The Ole chants started as early as the 13th minute. They hardly relented all night as Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Xabi Alonso passed Italy into oblivion. A player as eloquent and rarefied as Andre Pirlo, who himself would look comfortable in Spanish red, was left confused as he searched for answers to unsolvable questions.
Similarly, Daniele De Rossi, Riccardo Montolivo and Claudio Marchisio, the men who comprised the Italian engine room that had outwitted Germany and overran England, were casualties of a Spanish blitz that spared nobody.
To concentrate on the attacking brilliance does a disservice to the protective wall, without which no side can prosper. It is now 10 consecutive tournament knockout matches without conceding a goal for goalkeeper supreme Iker Casillas.
No Carles Puyol? No problem. Need a left-back? How does Jordi Alba, an attack-minded full-back of Roberto Carlos-esque proportions, suit you?
And if you get through that barrier, if you are afforded an opportunity to string a succession of passes together, have a go at beating Casillas, if you can. Antonio Di Natale couldn’t when he had the opportunity to haul Italy back into unlikely contention from point-blank range, shortly after the interval.
Everywhere you looked at this team, at this display there was a stylish perfection, even down to the way it was gold plated late on with a Chelsea double from substitute Fernando Torres and Juan Mata, a player who has seen so little playing action this tournament it all just seems so unfair.
As Mario Balotelli sank to his knees at the sight of Spain’s fourth, beautifully crafted goal of the night, even the stoic Vicente del Bosque afforded himself a wry smile. He knew all along. Why produce your Sunday best for anything other than this? Nobody who witnessed it will ever forget it. Viva Espana, indeed.