FE Today Logo

Lamine Yamal—a hero for Spain

Sends France home

July 11, 2024 00:00:00

Spain's forward Lamine Yamal celebrating after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2024 semi-final match against France at the Munich Football Arena in Munich on Wednesday (as per BST) — AFP

Lamine Yamal delivered a dose of footballing justice as his record-breaking stunner sent Spain to their first final in 12 years and France home, report agencies.

The entertainers defied the pragmatists in Munich as Yamal became the youngest goalscorer in Euros history with an instant classic.

Spain struck twice in five minutes in a pulsating first half to secure a 2-1 comeback win over France on Tuesday as a record-breaking goal from teenager LamineYamal and a Dani Olmo effort propelled them into the Euro 2024 final.

The 16-year-old Yamal cancelled out Randal KoloMuani's opener with a sublime shot in the 21st minute to become the youngest scorer in a Euro or World Cup before Olmo added another in the 25th for his third goal in the knockout stage.

The Spaniards, who have won every game of the tournament so far, confirmed their favourites tag with another display of attacking football, especially in the first half, that is a far cry from the tiki-taka passing game that earned them world and European titles more than a decade ago.

Sixteen-year-old Yamal eclipsed Brazilian great Pele to become the youngest player to score in a World Cup or Euros with a stunning 21st-minute strike that sailed into the top corner, helping Spain come from a goal down to beat France 2-1.

He was asked how he felt about scoring what could be the goal of Euro 2024.

"I'm really happy for the victory and for getting to the final. I don't know if it's the best goal of the tournament but it's the most special for me because getting to a final with the national team in the Euros is something super special for me," he told reporters.

With his creativity, pace and panache, Yamal has glittered as part of a Spain side who have won all their six matches at Euro 2024. They are now within reach of a record-breaking fourth Euros title.

His coach Luis de la Fuente described Yamal's goal as "a touch of genius".

Yamal was asked if he was aware he had become an icon of the tournament and said it did not matter what people thought of his individual contribution.

"I try not to look at that too much. I don't know if I'm the icon or not. That doesn't really help anything on the pitch. I need to help my team, that's what I try to do and that's what I tried to do today," he said.

"I was really happy after the final whistle. It's a dream come true, reaching a final with the senior national team."

He added, "Even my mum said it was her dream too. So I'm really happy that was my goal against France, my first goal against France, in a semi-final."

Yamal's goal and defeat of France was the perfect reply to an earlier remark by French midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who had reportedly said the impressive Yamal would have to do much more against Les Bleus if he wanted to play in the final.

Yamal during the match ran to a television camera yelling "speak now, speak now".

He was asked who he was talking to, but declined to say.

"The person I'm talking about, this person will know who this person is," he said.

It was a anti-climactic end to France's tournament, although the 2022 World Cup finalists never lived up to expectations in Germany with a very low conversion rate that carried into the semi-final.

"Spain proved tonight that they are a very good team. We were fortunate to open the scoring, but they caused us problems because they were superior in terms of control," said France coach Didier Deschamps.

"Tonight they showed all their qualities. We were... perhaps a little less fresh, which led to some technical waste, particularly in the build-up of the game. We didn't push forward often enough."

France did better from an almost identical move in the ninth minute with KylianMbappe, playing without a mask after breaking his nose earlier in the tournament, crossing for Kolo Muani to head in their first goal from open play at Euro 2024.

But the Spaniards, who were missing suspended DaniCarvajal and Robin Le Normand as well as injured Pedri, quickly turned the game around.

Yamal curled a stunning left-footed effort from 25 metres in off the post to break another record held by Brazil great Pele, as the youngest scorer in a Euro or World Cup.

Share if you like