Spain was leading Italy 2-0 when Thiago Motta, Italy’s third and final substitute, fell to the ground clutching his hamstring. He could not continue, and 10-man Italy was forced to face 11 rampaging Spaniards for the last half-hour.
Spain and Italy share a bitter soccer rivalry that dates back to the late 1950s. Top clubs from both countries have competed for Europe’s highest honors since the dawn of the European Cup (present-day UEFA Champions League), and their national teams are traditionally among Europe’s best. Italian and Spanish teams have mock, envied and imitated each other for so long that it’s difficult to separate the love from the hate they share.
In Suday’s final, Spain had already passed Italy into submission by the time Fernando Torres scored his team’s third goal in the 84th minute. We described it as “simultaneously cruel and just” since it accurately reflected Spain’s dominance of the contest, but it was also completely unnecessary. When Juan Mata scored Spain’s fourth, many fans just felt sorry for Italy.
Spain captain Iker Casillas shared those same emotions. He was caught on camera pleading with the referee’s assistant to tell his boss to end the game. It would show “respect to the rival” to mercifully end the game before the end of injury time. But his teammates didn’t share those feelings, as they kept their feet firmly pressed on the proverbial gas pedal.
Perhaps Casillas was getting bored, since he had little to do in the second half? Maybe he was eager to go and plant a kiss on his famous and beautiful fiancee Sara Carbonero? Or maybe Casillas felt that it was just right to show some mercy. You be the judge.
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