Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2012: Spain coach Vicente del Bosque basks in extraordinary achievement

By Simon Stone in Kiev

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque labelled his side's record-breaking performance in Kiev last night as "extraordinary".

La Roja became the first international side to win three successive major tournaments thanks to their 4-0 win over Italy, the biggest final win in European Championship history.

First-half goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba put Spain in control.

And once Thiago Motta had gone off with a hamstring injury just four minutes after his introduction, Italy were forced to play the final half hour with 10 men.

That allowed Spain to really rub it in as Fernando Torres added a third before setting up Chelsea team-mate Juan Mata to wrap up an incredible win.

"It's true we were lucky enough to play a great match," said Del Bosque.

"Everything worked for us.

"It was an extraordinary performance against a difficult opponent."

The manner of the triumph was the perfect answer to a growing number of critics, who have labelled Spain boring.

Arsene Wenger joined that band with some particularly pointed comments earlier today.

Wenger was present in Kiev in his role as a pundit for French TV and could not fail to be impressed.

Del Bosque insisted there was no outside influence involved in Spain's success.

"We played our own game," he said.

"There were no real external influences: we were faithful to what we've done in recent years."

Del Bosque expressed some sympathy for Italy, who had less preparation time after Thursday's semi-final win over Germany.

"The Italians have played a great tournament," said Del Bosque.

"They had the bad luck of the injury to Thiago Motta and that's where it all ended for them, unfortunately."

Andres Iniesta claimed the man-of-the-match award after another exceptional performance.

He is one of four players - Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xavi are the others - to have started all three final triumphs.

"It's very nice to have this man-of-the-match trophy but it's especially great to be champions again," he said.

"The team played a great match and all the players were at their top level.

"We are very happy."

Iniesta backed up Del Bosque's sentiments about criticism having no effect.

The Barcelona man insisted Spain stayed true to their beliefs.

"Everybody has their opinion," he said.

"We are not here to say that our game is the most beautiful of them all.

"Everyone has a different view.

"Today, we had a great level of play and were faithful to our style.

"That they only had 10 players made things easier for us.

"This victory is unique and magical.

"It is something that cannot be repeated.

"We haven't ignored how great it is."

Treble chasers

Spain - the Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 champions - last night became the first team in history to win three major international tournaments in a row, including a World Cup, following their 4-0 victory over Italy in the final of Euro 2012.

Here, we look at other sides that have tried and failed to complete such a feat.

WEST GERMANY (1976 European Championship)

The Germans went into the Euros in Yugoslavia as defending champions and having also won the 1974 World Cup, staged in their own country. For a third successive time they made a final, taking on Czechoslovakia, but after falling 2-0 behind early on and then pulling two goals back to take the game to penalties, they were undone in the shoot-out. They went down 5-3 as Antonin Panenka produced a nerveless chip to win it for the Czechs and set the template for Andrea Pirlo and Sergio Ramos to follow.

ARGENTINA (1994 World Cup)

Argentina had a hat-trick in their sights at the World Cup in the United States having won the 1991 and 1993 Copa America titles, but after suffering the blow of Diego Maradona being sent home for failing a drugs test, the South Americans - having only finished third in their group - were eliminated in the round of 16 with a 3-2 defeat to Romania.

FRANCE (2002 World Cup)

After savouring the glory of winning the 1998 World Cup on home turf and then following it up with the Euro 2000 title, Les Bleus came crashing back down to earth at the tournament in Japan and South Korea, finishing bottom of their group having suffered defeats to Senegal and Denmark either side of a goalless draw with Uruguay.

BRAZIL (2006 World Cup)

It was Brazil who eventually won the World Cup in the Far East and two years later they added a Copa America title, but their hopes of a treble were then dashed in Germany as they cruised to the quarter-finals, only to be beaten 1-0 by the French in the last eight thanks to a goal from Thierry Henry.

European Championship Winners

1960 - USSR

1964 - Spain

1968 - Italy

1972 - West Germany

1976 - Czechoslovakia

1980 - West Germany

1984 - France

1988 - Holland

1992 - Denmark

1996 - Germany

2000 - France

2004 - Greece

2008 - Spain

2012 - Spain

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