Thiago Alcantara stars with a hat trick as the defending champions retain their crown
Thiago Alcantara scored a first-half hat trick as Spain turned on the style to beat Italy 4-2 on Tuesday and win the European Under-21 championship for a second consecutive time.
Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata stormed past the Italian defenders down the left and Thiago headed home from close range. Italy hit back four minutes later when Ciro Immobile chipped over flailing Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea.
Thiago restored Spain’s lead 15 minutes before the interval after chesting down a cross by Koke.
The Barcelona midfielder brought up his hat trick in the 38th minute, this time from the penalty spot after Giulio Donati brought down Christian Tello in the box.
Italian coach Devis Mangia tried to spice things up by bringing on two players who had scored in previous games — Riccardo Saponara and Manolo Gabbiadini — but Spaniard Isco put the result beyond doubt in the 66th minute with another penalty after Vasco Regini brought down Martin Montoya.
Fabio Borini pulled one back for Italy in the 80th minute, but there was no real chance of turning the game around.
Spain’s Under-21s went on to retain their title, just as the senior side had retained its title as European champions in 2012 and now hopes to repeat the same feat at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.