Pique makes case for defence

  • Last Updated: July 2 2012, 8:37 BST

Gerard Pique has hailed the defensive foundation which he believes is key to Spain's unprecedented success.

Pique: Hailed Spain's defence

Spain sealed a third consecutive tournament win on Sunday night by beating Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final - a feat never before achieved in international football.

Remarkably Spain closed the tournament on a run of 510 minutes without conceding as they were only breached once in the entire competition.

That run also extends the world champions' run of not conceding in tournament knockout games to 10 matches.

Pique said in AS: "On a defensive level we have been very good, not only the defenders and [Iker] Casillas.

"The whole team has been very good in general. It was important not to concede and we had the luck to score because the chances always arrive."

  • Pictures of the celebrations that followed Spain's emphatic victory over Italy in the Euro 2012 final.
Pictures of the celebrations that followed Spain's emphatic victory over Italy in the Euro 2012 final.

Uncharacteristically Spain had less of the ball in the opening period than the Italians but led at half-time thanks to goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba.

And when Cesare Prandelli's side were reduced to 10 men when Thiago Motta went off injured after the break the holders rammed home their man advantage with further goals from Fernando Torres and Juan Mata.

"In the first half we didn't have so much of the ball but with the two times we threatened we scored," said Pique. "With the injury to Motta everything was much easier as they had been left with 10."

  • Spain have won the 2012 European Championships after a stunning 4-0 win over Italy in the final.
  • Flying the flag or rather wearing it... Italian fans have flooded into Kiev's Olympic Stadium as they prepare for Spain vs Italy in the Euro 2012 final.
  • Spanish fans are hoping to see their side make history by picking up a third successive major trophy and will be praying that 'tiki-taka' triumphs tonight
  • Spain have reached the final after topping Group C before going on to defeat Laurent Blanc's France and Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the knockout rounds
  • Despite drawing with Spain in their Group C clash, Italy qualified as runners up. Wins over England and Germany booked their place in tonight's final.
  • Euro 2012 mascots Slavek and Slavko pose with the Henry Delauney trophy prior to kick-off. Will it be Casillas or Buffon who lifts the cup after full-time?
  • As the closing ceremony reaches its conclusion the teams make their way onto the pitch for the national anthems.
  • Italy start with a familiar line-up; with Pirlo and Balotelli certain to be the two men that they turn to for inspiration.
  • Spain make one change from their triumph over Portugal, replacing Avaro Negredo with Cesc Fabregas, once again reverting to the 4-6-0 formation.
  • The game is underway, and Italy are making it clear very early on that they don't intend to give Spain much time on the ball.
  • Spain have been far more positive than was expected, as they surge forwards from the off, not afraid to shoot from distance or run at the Italian defence.
  • Spain dominate the early exchanges, looking willing to shoot from range. Fabregas breaks into the box and picks out Silva who heads past Buffon. 1-0 Spain!
  • A truly brilliant goal to really kick start the Euro 2012 final. The Italians look deflated having conceded after just 13 minutes.
  • Italy have responded well, with Balotelli and Cassanno looking particularly dangerous, as Spain narrowly survive a succession of dangerous corners.
  • Italy continue to dominate, but Spain break forward on the counter. A pin point pass from Xavi finds Jordi Alba who beats Buffon one on one and it is 2-0!
  • It will be hard for Italy to swallow afterseemingly settling into the game, but Spain are two up at half-time thanks to a breath-taking move.
  • Disaster strikes early in the half for Italy, as having already made all three substitutions, Thiago Motta is forced to retire with a hamstring injury.
  • With Italy down to ten men and two goals behind Spain begin to take total control. Camped inside the Italian half and in constant posession of the ball.
  • A defence splitting pass finds substitute Fernando Torres clear through on goal. He takes the ball in his stride and slots it home to make it 3-0.
  • The goal makes the Chelsea man the joint top scorer at the tournament, and also equals the record for the largest win at a European Championships final.
  • Torres is involved again as Spain add a fourth. El Nino finds fellow Chelsea man Juan Mata who scores in his first game of the tournament to make it 4-0.
  • Mata's goal sees Spain break the record for the most goals in a European Championships final and puts their win beyond any doubt.
  • The final whistle goes and Spain remain European Champions and have made history by becoming the only side ever to win the competition on three occasions.
  • It is contrasting emotions for Italy however, as they will feel hard done to after plyaing most of the second half with ten men.
  • Casillas lifts the Henry Delauney trophy for a second time and fireworks fly at the Olympic Stadium to mark the end of a memorable European Championships.
Live pictures from the Euro 2012 final between Spain and Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.

The Barcelona defender also paid tribute to former Liverpool and Real Betis defender Miki Roque who died after a fight with pelvic cancer last week at the age of just 23.

"We always had Roque and his family very much with us."