Yamal wonder goal sets Spain up for French win and a trip to Berlin

July 9 – What a goal, what a player. And not a bad team either. Sixteen-year-old Lamine Yamal entered footballing immortality tonight by becoming the youngest player ever to score in a major men’s tournament as Spain reached the final of Euro 2024.

Before the game, France’s Adrien Rabiot tweeted that if Yamal wanted to play in Sunday’s final he would “have to do more things than he has so far”.

How he must be regretting calling the mercurial teenager’s talent into question.

There were 21 minutes on the clock when Yamal, his team trailing to an early French strike, produced the most audacious of equalisers before his team went on to win 2-1 and remain on course for a record fourth Euro triumph.

Lamine Yamal under pressure from Adrien Rabiot who he made eat his social media posts

On a sultry night in Munich, goal-shy France, one of the pre-tournament favourites who had not scored a single goal from open play, were looking to silence the critics and duly stunned their opponents after just eight minutes.

Ousmane Dembele spun a fine ball out to Kylian Mbappe – at last minus the protective mask that had inhibited both his vision and his general team play. Cue a delectable cross toward the back-post for Randal Kolo Muani to head home.

It was just the just the start Didier Deschamps’ side needed as Mbappe threatened to finally make his mark on the tournament after a series of below-par performances.

Randal Kolo Muani oscored first for France from an Mbappe cross 

Instead the night belonged to Yamal and a goal that will be remembered for generations to come as he swayed one way and then other, bamboozling Rabiot in the process it has to be said, before maintaining his balance and unfurling a sublime curler into the far top corner.

Four minutes later, before anyone had time to catch their breath, came what turned out to be the winner.  Dani Olmo, in the starting eleven only because of an injury to Pedri, took two touches before leathering a low drive that was heading for the far corner before being diverted into the net by Jules Kounde.

Given that Spain had been forced into a string of changes because of injury and suspension, it was a credit to those who stepped in, including 38-year-old Jesus Navas at fullback, that they created another record by helping their country become the first to win six straight games at a Europeam Championship finals tournament.

Rabiot under pressure from Rodri 

Yet France, who haven’t won this competition for 24 years despite reaching the final of the last two World Cups – triumphing in Russia in 2018 and losing only on penalties to Argentina in Qatar in 2022 – will rue missing a series of second-half chances that could have told a very different story.

As Spain tired after putting so much energy into the opening 45 minutes, on and off the ball, Deschamps’ team pegged them back. Closer and closer France came before Mbappe, of all people, fluffed a golden opportunity on 85 minutes, blasting over when the French fans expected the net to bulge.

Jules Kounde of France chases the loose ball under pressure from lightening quick Nico Williams 

It was kind of strike Mbappe might have netted 99 times out of 100 and was the final goalmouth action of a pulsating encounter between the two most successful national sides of the new millennium, the meanest defence in the competition finally giving way to the strongest attack.

There’s one final hurdle to come of course for Spain, who wait to find out whether it will be England or the Netherlands in Berlin as their men’s team strive to win their first piece of silverware for 12 years.

But whatever happens on Sunday, this night will always be remembered for Mbappe, arguably the greatest player of his generation, being upstaged by one very special upstart.

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