FIFA World Cup 2018 Final: Spain 3-1 Italy

Spain have won their second World Cup after a 3-1 win over Italy in Moscow tonight, their second time lifting the famous trophy and their fourth major international honour in ten years. Llorente’s first-half brace helped inflict a second consecutive Final defeat on Italy after they lost to Brazil in 2014.

Four changes for Spain after their semi-final win over holders Brazil: Víctor Ruiz, Juan Mata, Cesc Fàbregas and Rodrigo were all restored to the side in place of Thiago, César Azpilicueta, Rubén Pardo and Jesús Navas.

Just two changes for Italy from the side who beat Argentina: Sebastian Giovinco started up front and Antonio Nocerino returned after suspension, replacing Gianluca Caprari and Claudio Marchisio respectively.

Spain rocked the stadium by scoring the second-fastest goal in a World Cup Final, with just 01:52 on the clock when they took the lead. It started at the back for Italy when ‘keeper Sirigu played the ball to Criscito who was caught napping by Rodrigo.

He played it square to Fabregas who knocked it high into the box. Juan Mata met the delivery, heading back across goal to the far post where Fernando Llorente rose above Bonucci and Astori and looped his header past Sirigu.

Just before the half-hour mark, Llorente doubled the lead. Sergio Ramos, already cautioned, timed his strong challenge on Criscito on the Italian left flank to perfection and found Rodrigo marauding up the wing. He looked up before flighting a ball over the top for Fernando Llorente to out-pace his man and slot home a second.

Five minutes before the break, Llorente nearly had his hat-trick. Fàbregas robbed Poli in the centre-circle and sent the ball clean through to the Milan man, but 1-on-1 with Sirigu he sent the ball inches wide.

Italy had to come flying out of the traps after the break, and were nearly back in the game in the 54th minute when Faraoni headed Chiellini’s long-throw onto the underside of the crossbar before Ramos dived to clear the ball off the line. If Italy started to believe today wouldn’t be their day, then Spain confirmed it just 90 seconds later.

Jordi Alba won a corner for Spain on their right, and took it himself. Pique flicked-on at the near post and Álvaro Dominguez arrived at the far post to bundle home his first senior international goal as Spain became only the third team to hold a 3-0 lead in a World Cup Final (after 1982 and 1998).

Late on, Giuseppe Rossi came within inches of moving level with Chilean striker Diego Rubio on six goals for the tournament when he smashed a 25-yarder against the woodwork. The bar was probably still rattling when Italy scored a consolation in the 88th minute.

Poli won the ball from Fàbregas on halfway and found Giovinco. He did all the work for the Italian left before picking out Giacomo Bonaventura who took a touch before letting fly with a daisy-cutter that crept in by Casillas’s right-hand post for the Pescara midfielder’s first senior goal for Italy.

Gerard Pique lifted the trophy for Spain who won 6 of their 7 matches here in Russia, only being held by Uruguay in a stalemate back in the group stage. Their UEFA Championship qualifiers begin in September after friendlies against Brazil and Argentina in August.

                   FIFA WORLD CUP 2018: FINAL
                        SPAIN 3-1 ITALY
               Llorente 2, 28     Bonaventura 88
                 Domínguez 56

                        Ramos     Chiellini
                      Iniesta
                     Fàbregas
                    Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

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