TORONTO - Hordes of soccer fans took to the streets of many Canadian urban centres in celebration on Sunday after Spain's shutout win over Italy in the European Championship.
And in what seemed like a typically Canadian twist, some fans from the losing team set aside their differences and joined in the festivities.
In Toronto, a throng of revellers filled almost an entire block steps from the city's downtown Little Italy neighbourhood, turning the street into an inferno of red-and-yellow Spanish flags and soccer shirts.
In the middle of cheers and shouts of "Espanola," they were joined by a handful of Canadians who had been supporting Italy but nonetheless shared in the celebration, with flags from both countries mingling in the air.
Blocks away in the heart of Little Italy, however, the mood was sombre, with some blue-clad Italian supporters filing out early from filled-to-capacity patios before Spain iced the game with a fourth and final goal.
One Italy fan carefully folded up the country's green, white and red flag he had been holding, as cars loaded with passengers yelling chants of "Espanola" began to inch through the neighbourhood's bustling main strip.
Meanwhile, in Montreal, soccer fans turned a Spanish social club in the city's Plateau neighbourhood into de facto victory headquarters.
A few hundred people danced, cheered, and sang "Ole, Ole, Ole!" in the street as traffic got backed up for blocks.
"I feel really happy. It's a great day," said Aaron Esteban, a Montrealer with Spanish roots.
"To see all the Spanish Montrealers celebrating, I don't have words for it. It's very special."
Vancouver supporters of the winning team flooded into the Commercial Drive area in the city's east side.
In the Greater Toronto Area, home to an estimated 320,000 Italian-Canadians, major soccer tournaments involving Italy regularly produce big downtown crowds, people decked out in blue jerseys and car-mounted mini flags.
The population of people of Spanish descent in the region is less than one-tenth that.
Nonetheless, supporters of the country's winning team went wild in the city, jubilant in the fact that at least one important set of numbers were in their favour.
"I knew it before the game started that we were going to win 4 — 0 and that's how I knew it, and I wanted Italy to lose," said Ivonne Murillo Dixon as the Spanish flag she held lapped at her head.
"I'm just going to go party and do something about it," she said of the win.
Many of Toronto's Italy fans seemed to take the blowout loss in stride, quietly clearing out from the neighbourhood's sold-out restaurant patios and a beer garden put up in a grocery store parking lot.
"The point of soccer is to bring people together, so I'm keeping positive and everyone here is keeping positive. Can't win them all," said Peter Siriaani, an Italy supporter.
Spain won the previous European Cup tournament in 2008, and hoisted the World Cup two years ago.
— with files from Benjamin Shingler in Montreal.