Spain's 4-2 final triumph in Israel, their fourth UEFA European Under-21 Championship crown, took them within one victory of opponent Italy's record haul of five titles.
Spain's 4-2 victory over Italy in Jerusalem was their fourth UEFA European Under-21 Championship triumph – and their second in a row. If they complete a hat-trick in the Czech Republic in two summers' time they will equal Italy's record of wins.
The Azzurrini had been seeking their sixth success in Israel but came up short against Julen Lopetegui's masterly side. A hat-trick from Thiago Alcántara and an Isco penalty at the Teddy Stadium made it five victories out of five for Spain at the 2013 finals as they clinched their fourth crown at this level.
Their first, in 1986, had also come against Italy as they prevailed in a penalty shoot-out – with Walter Zenga in goal, no less – after a pair of 2-1 home wins in the two-legged final. Twelve years later, Iván Pérez's second-half strike earned a second title in a one-off decider against Greece, while two summers ago a team including 2010 FIFA World Cup winners Javi Martínez and Juan Mata sauntered to glory in Denmark.
Five members of that squad were in Israel defending the crown, and if Spain can make it three on the bounce in the Czech Republic in 2015 they will match Italy's record haul of five titles. The Azzurrini are currently the only side to have managed a hat-trick of successes, victories in 1992, 1994 and 1996 preceding further triumphs in 2000 and 2004. They have lost just two finals, both to Spain.
UEFA European Under-21 Championship titles
2 England, Soviet Union, Netherlands
1 Yugoslavia, France, Czech Republic, Germany
2013 Spain (Israel)*
2011 Spain (Denmark)*
2009 Germany (Sweden)*
2007 Netherlands (Netherlands)*
2006 Netherlands (Portugal)*
2004 Italy (Germany)*
2002 Czech Republic (Switzerland)*
2000 Italy (Slovakia)
1998 Spain (Romania)
1996 Italy (Spain)
1994 Italy (France)
* Current format