KIEV, Ukraine — Just like clockwork, Spain's "tiki taka" passing game tore Italy apart.

The World Cup champions controlled the play Sunday in the European Championship final, as they usually do. They moved the ball up the field with short pass after short pass, as they usually do.

But, incredibly, they also managed to score a whopping four goals, something they don't usually do.

It all added up to a 4-0 win over Italy and a third straight major soccer title for Spain.

"We won being true to our playing style, and by moving the ball the we way we moved it we knew how to take charge of the match," said Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the team's captain. "What we do is difficult but we make it look easy."

Casillas and Spain striker Fernando Torres also made their own histories. Torres became the first man to score in two European Championship finals, and Casillas played in his record 100th victory in international soccer.

Spain's other goals on Sunday at the Olympic Stadium came from David Silva, Jordi Alba and Juan Mata.

"We were superior to Italy," said midfielder Xavi Hernandez, perhaps Spain's most influential player over the last four years. "We played a complete game and perhaps the best of the entire European Championship. We made history."

Four years ago at Euro 2008, Spain ended a 44-year drought of major titles, beating Germany 1-0 in the final to start a run that has been unmatched by any other team in history.

Although they lost to the United States in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup in 2009, snapping a record 15-game winning streak, the Spanish have been nearly impossible to beat in competitive matches.

A year after that game against the Americans, Spain opened the 2010 World Cup with a loss to Switzerland. But they then went on a tear, winning their next six games to finally claim a World Cup title and undoubtedly shed for good the "underachiever" tag.

In all that time since Euro 2008, Spain has won with flair, using its short passing game – dubbed "tiki taka" by the Spanish media and adopted by the team – to dazzle scrambling opponents.

"Tonight, there was no contest," Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. "They were too superior, so the bitterness at losing this final is only relative."

Against Italy, Spain was the favorite, but was also primed to be beaten after being held to a 1-1 draw by the Italians in their opening Group C match. Spain, which has been experimenting with a lineup that excludes a recognized striker, needed a penalty shootout to reach the final after a 0-0 tie with Portugal in the semifinals.

"They've been playing at a very high level for years," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "And even though they didn't use any traditional striker, they were able to give weight to their attack."

The controversial lineup, which Spain coach Vicente del Bosque again employed on Sunday, is akin to playing in the Super Bowl without a running back. Sure, you can still score touchdowns, but you give up on the chance for a game-breaking play.

Still, the midfielders and the defenders got the job done in the first half. Silva headed in a high shot in the 14th minute off a pass from Cesc Fabregas. And Alba added another in the 41st, picking up a beautiful through ball from Xavi and shooting past Buffon.

"The game was ours after the first goal, but the truth is that we played one heck of a game," Fabregas said.

Italy's task was tough enough with 11 players, and it became impossible with only 10 after the 64th minute. All its substitutes were used when midfielder Thiago Motta, who had only been on the field for seven minutes, was taken off with an injury.

Torres, who came on for Fabregas in the 75th minute, then added the third goal with a relatively easy finish and Mata really put the game away in the 88th, knocking in a pass from Torres.

"The second goal by Jordi hurt them, and then the third finished them off," said Casillas, who made a point-blank save on a shot from Antonio Di Natale at the start of the second half and twice tipped crosses out of danger just before the Italians could get their heads to the ball.

With every save, and of course with every goal, the huge group of Spain supporters cheered and screamed. The red-shirted fans dominated one corner of the stadium, filling up more than six sections of the Olympic Stadium. On the opposite side, the blue-clad Italians were far outnumbered, with dozens of empty yellow seats poking through the mass of supporters.

Also in the stands were several heads of state. Italian Premier Mario Monti, along with other EU leaders, had said they would not travel to Ukraine for the tournament because of the politically tainted jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. But that didn't stop him from attending the final in Kiev.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also attended the match, and got to watch as his players celebrated with confetti and fireworks when they lifted yet another major trophy.

"I don't believe it," said Alba, who has played only nine matches for Spain, "but little by little it is sinking in."

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  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas clashes with Italy's Mario Balotelli during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas celebrate s with the trophy after the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    The Spanish team celebrates winning the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italian players stand dejected after the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Xabi Alonso, left, is flanked by Alvaro Arbeloa as he holds up the trophy at the end of during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Xabi Alonso, left, is flanked by Alvaro Arbeloa as he holds up the trophy at the end of during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, second right, comforts Leonardo Bonucci, left, after Italy lost the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's players celebrate with the trophy after the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring his side's third goal during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Sergio Ramos, left, holds the trophy with a girl after the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Mario Balotelli, left, and Spain's Jordi Alba challenge for the ball during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Andrea Barzagli reacts after Spain's Fernando Torres scored his side's 3rd goal during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    A Spanish fan reacts during the viewing of Euro 2012 soccer championship final match between Spain and Italy at the Fan Zone in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italian fans react at the Circus Maximus in Rome, during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final match between Italy and Spain, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque, left, kicks the ball as Italy's Federico Balzaretti tries to take a throw-in during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012. Spain won 4-0.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Juan Mata, center, scores his side's fourth goal during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final against Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012. Spain won 4-0.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italian supporters react as they watch the final of the Euro 2012 soccer championships between Italy and Spain televised from Kiev on a giant screen set up in Turin's Piazza Vittorio, northern Italy, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring his side's third goal during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final against Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012. Spain won 4-0.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Ignazio Abate clears a ball ahead of Spain's Andres Iniesta during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Leonardo Bonucci sits dejected after Spain scored the fourth goal during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, July 2, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Members of the Spanish team acknowledges spectators after winning the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, July 2, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Fernando Torres, right, runs past Italy's Antonio Di Natale, left, and MArio Balotelli after scoring his side's third goal during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Thiago Motta is carried off the pitch on a stretcher during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Thiago Motta receives assistance during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy supporters react during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final match between Spain and Italy during a public viewing at the Fan Zone in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Mario Balotelli walks on the pitch during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Mario Balotelli, center, blazes a shot over the bar during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, left, makes a save from Italy's Antonio Di Natale during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spanish fans celebrate during the viewing of Euro 2012 soccer championship final match between Spain and Italy at the Fan Zone in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Mario Balotelli controls the ball during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Antonio Di Natale, left, and Spain's Sergio Ramos vie for the ball during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Jordi Alba, left, celebrates with his teammate Xabi Alonso after scoring his side's second goal during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Jordi Alba celebrates scoring his side's second goal as Italy's Leonardo Bonucci kicks the ball in anger during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Mario Balotelli, top, is fouled by Spain's Sergio Ramos during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's David Silva, right, celebrates flanked by his teammate Alvaro Arbeloa after scoring during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon make a save in front of Spain's Cesc Fabregas during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Mario Balotelli, bottom, and Spain's Sergio Ramos go for a header during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Andrea Pirlo reacts after Spain's Jordi Alba scored the second goal during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Antonio Cassano, left, shoots through the legs of Spain's Gerard Pique, second right, as goalkeeper Iker Casillas watches the scene to catch the ball during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's Xabi Alonso, left and Italy's Andrea Barzagli battle for a high ball during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Daniele De Rossi gets medical treatment during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, left, and Italy's Mario Balotelli go for a header during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Andrea Pirlo takes a free-kick during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain's David Silva, right, is challenged by Italy's Federico Balzaretti, left, and Giorgio Chiellini during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque gestures during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Players battle for the ball during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Players battle for the ball during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.

  • Euro 2012: Spain Defeats Italy

    Italy's Daniele De Rossi, right, is fouled by Spain's David Silva during the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, July 1, 2012.