Spain won their third consecutive title on this day ten years ago. / AFP

1 July 2012: Spain win Euro 2012, their third title in a row

The Spanish national football team achieved a third consecutive trophy at a major tournament, an unprecedented feat

SHAY CONAGHAN

The Spanish national football team defeated Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final to complete the unprecedented achievement of winning three consecutive major international tournaments, something no other nation had ever managed to do. However, it was the beginning of the end of the golden era of Spanish football at an international level, after La Roja had won the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2008.

Despite their win a decade ago, Spain were then already showing signs of what was to come in their eventual downfall at the 2014 World Cup.

Spain kicked off the 2012 tournament with a 1-1 draw against the side who would be their fellow finalists, Italy. Cesc Fábregas equalised for the Spaniards just several minutes after the Italians opened the scoring, though it was clear that Spain's tiki-taka, flashy style of play was becoming easier to counter, especially for the bigger sides.

But all doubts were shaken off in La Roja's next match, when they thrashed the Republic of Ireland 4-0 thanks to goals from David Silva and Fábregas and a brace by Fernando Torres. In the final group match against Croatia, a draw would have been enough for Vicente del Bosque's side, but they still left it very late to clinch a win that resurfaced the idea that La Roja's way of play wasn't as effective as previous years.

Spain would go on to face France in the quarter-finals, beating them 2-0 with a double by unusual goalscorer Xabi Alonso.

The semi-final against Portugal was further proof, in a game in which the defending champions had eleven attempts on goal in 120 minutes and with no end product, which works out to one chance every ten minutes - not good enough for a side with so much attacking prowess. La Roja eventually beat their Iberian neighbours on penalties to make it to the final.

And yet, despite having met in their first game of the tournament, Spain wiped the floor with Italy. La Roja's 4-0 thrashing was as impressive as it was surprising, given that Del Bosque's men had already struggled against the better teams. Spain didn't change any of the fundamentals and asserted their dominance over the Italians within the first 40 minutes, only turning up the intensity in the last five minutes, when they scored their third and fourth goals.

And so, Spain completed their historic achievement which has yet to be matched.

La Roja also gave Spaniards something to smile about during what was then a difficult time in the country due to the financial crisis.