ITALY 2-4 SPAIN
Spain’s Under-21’s have now matched their senior and Under-19s sides in winning consecutive European Championships and the performance of this squad in Israel suggests the future of the senior national side is bright for years to come. Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara scored a first-half treble as the Spanish totally outclassed Italy to retain the Under-21 European Championship.
Julen Lopetegui’s side arrive into the final undefeated in 25 competitive matches, and though Thiago’s early header looked to have set them on course to increase that tally, Ciro Immobile soon replied for Italy. But unfortunately for Devis Mangia’s team, Thiago grabbed his second goal just after the half-hour to put La Roja back in front.
Malaga midfielder Isco, rumoured to be choose a move to either Real Madrid or Manchester City, has been a revelation in this tournament, and tonight he was once again involved in some of Spain’s best passages of play.
The 21-year-old playmaker played his part in the sixth-minute opener when he fed Alvaro Morata, whose cross was met by the unmarked Thiago with a hammering header.
The lead did not last long, four minutes in fact, Ciro Immobile scoring his first goal of the tournament in superb fashion, collecting Inter defender Giulio Donati’s route one ball before lobbing Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea. This was the first goal that De Gea and Spain have conceded throughout the whole tournament.
Hat-trick hero Thiago (ironically born in Italy), whose Brazilian father Mazinho won a World Cup winners medal at USA ‘94, then put the game beyond The Azzuri’s reach when he converted a spot-kick after Cristian Tello was fouled by Donati.
Italy have won the Under-21 European Championship a record five times, but they struggled to respond to win a sixth tonight mainly due to Spain’s dominance of possession. Even though Liverpool striker Borini added a second Italian goal ten minutes from time it was a bridge too far for the Italians. Already by then the magical Isco had scored another spot kick which was his third goal of the tournament and the icing on the cake for the Spanish.
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