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Alcantara hat-trick leads Spain to crown

Thiago Alcantara inspired Spain U-21s to European Championship glory, with the reported Manchester United target hitting a hat-trick as Italy were defeated 4-2 in Jeru-salem, yesterday. The 22-year-old Barcelona midfielder has been regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford and saw his considerable stock rise further as Spain stylishly disposed of the country of his birth. Alcantara, part of the Spain side that won the tournament in Denmark two years ago, headed home his first after just six minutes, but Italy were quickly level through a fine Ciro Immobile goal. Spain regained the lead through Alcantara in the 31st minute, before the son of Brazilian 1994 World Cup winner Mazinho completed his hat-trick with a penalty seven minutes later. Isco added to Alcantara?s treble in the second half and, despite a nervy ending following a strike from Liverpool?s Fabio Borini, La Rojita retained webblog their title in style. Spain dominated from the outset and took an early lead through Alcantara, who headed home an Alvaro Morata cross from close range. It was an impressive goal but one that was soon cancelled out as Giulio Donati played a wonderfully-weighted ball from the back, which Immobile controlled before dinking over goalkeeper David de Gea. Spain quickly returned to the attack and Italy?s Francesco Bardi had to be alert to deny Morata after the Real Madrid striker was put through by Alcantara. Italy?s biggest threat was coming on the counter-attack and opposite number De Gea was forced into an important stop to keep the scores level. Borini played a looping ball over to Alessandro Florenzi, who flicked over Marc Bartra?s head before seeing his volley pushed over by goalkeeper De Gea. Spain soon went in front for a second time, though. Koke picked out Alcantara and Bardi was unable to keep out the Barcelona midfielder?s fierce half volley. They extended their lead further as half-time approached after Tello was brought down by Donati?s trailing leg in the box. Alcantara stepped up to the mark and struck home, completing his hat-trick and putting Spain in the driving seat. Only a smart Bardi save prevented the 22-year-old grabbing another in the opening minute of the second half, with his low 20-yard strike parried away from danger. Isco came close under pressure from the Italian defence, but got the goal he craved in the 66th minute. Vasco Regini brought down Martin Montoya in the box and Isco fired the resulting spot-kick home. It was no less than Spain deserved but they were forced to endure a nervy ending as they let their foot off the gas. Borini struck a wonderful 20-yard effort past De Gea to reduce the deficit, with Regini firing over shortly afterwards. The Azzurrini continued to push but there was to be no more goals as Spain were crowned Euro U-21 champions again. Winners since 2000

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