Thiago hits a hat-trick as Spain retain U-21 crown
Thiago Alcantara inspired Spain to European U-21 Championship glory by scoring a hat-trick as the defending champions beat Italy 4-2 in Jerusalem.
The 22-year-old Barcelona midfielder, who has been regularly linked with Manchester United, saw his considerable stock rise further as Spain stylishly disposed of the country of his birth.
Thiago, 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 Thiago in the 31st minute, before the son of Brazilian 1994 World Cup winner Mazinho completed his hat-trick with a penalty seven minutes later.
Manchester City target Isco added to Alcantara's treble in the second half before Liverpool's Fabio Borini gave Italy late hope.
* AUSTRALIA booked their place in the World Cup finals by beating Iraq 1-0 in Sydney thanks to an 83rd minute by substitute Josh Kennedy.