Spain 2-1 France: Lamine Yamal breaks TWO Pelé records as Spain reach EURO2024 final

Records are made to be broken – but there are some that you can never truly foresee being obliterated. Most of those were set by the legendary Pelé; now, two of them are held by 16-year-old Lamine Yamal.

He’d made history even before kicking a ball on Tuesday, smashing the Brazilian’s record to become the youngest player to start a major international semi-final.

By the time the half-hour mark had rolled around, he’d netted a stunning effort from the edge of the box to restore parity and clinch yet another of Pelé’s records: the youngest player to ever score in a major tournament semi-final.

The big moments require the big players to step up. Yamal did just that – and now Spain can feast their eyes on Sunday’s trip to Berlin’s Olympiastadion.

As it happened

Despite a flurry of empty seats, the Munich Football Arena quickly established itself as a cauldron of fervour. Within the opening minute, Marc Cucurella became the subject of intense heckling from the crowd – later revealed to be German fans expressing their discontent with his apparent handball in their quarter-final clash.

France’s troubles in front of goal have been well-documented since they first touched down in Germany – but with just nine minutes on the matchday clock, Randal Kolo Muani had les Bleus back to their brilliant best. The forward latched onto a pinpoint delivery by Kylian Mbappé, rising highest at the back post to nod past Unai Simón and silence the red wall that had formed behind the goal.

Spain’s fluency on the ball just didn’t look to be converting into anything meaningful, with Lamine Yamal and Fabián Ruiz both halted as they sought to drag la Roja level – but patience is a virtue, as they’d soon discover.

A little over twenty minutes had passed in Bavaria by the time Spain thundered home the leveller. Thundered doesn’t do it justice – make no mistake about it, this was most certainly was not the type of goal you’d expect a 16-year-old to produce on a stage of this magnitude.

Age really is just a number for him, though. Played in by Álvaro Morata on the edge of the box, the youngster – who recently completed his secondary school exams – shifted past Adrien Rabiot. He opened his body up, picking out the top corner with aplomb and wheeling away in euphoria as his strike deflected off the post and over the line.

(Photo by Alex Pantling – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

And so, with eyes still wide from that moment of magic, la Roja could barely believe their luck when four minutes later, they clinched the lead in Munich.

Own goals have worked in France’s favour throughout the tournament; not on Tuesday though, as Jules Koundé was resigned to mere passenger status when Dani Olmo’s thunderous effort ricocheted off him and past a bewildered Mike Maignan.

The narrative in Munich had changed entirely, the script had been rewritten – yet one thing had not changed: the crowd’s indisputable distaste for Cucurella, who was on the receiving end of ear-piercing boos until the very last minute.

France trailed at the break, and they trailed too as the hour mark approached – a tame driven effort from Mbappé ten minutes into the second half failed to trouble Unai Simón, nor did it threaten Spain’s lead.

The most baffling miss of the night would come courtesy of Hernández though, the recipient of a well-placed lay-off from Eduardo Camavinga. His resulting effort was anything but well-placed, soaring some distance over the woodwork when really it would’ve been easier to find the target.

Even Mbappé, finally freed from the shackles of his protective mask after breaking his nose on MD1, could not be France’s hero – he cut inside and opted for power over precision, walking away with his head in his hands as the severity of the miss set in.

It would, despite a flurry of late chances for la Roja, be the miss that defined the match. Mbappé’s EURO2024 journey has come to an end, a hurdle earlier than the Frenchman would have liked. But by the starkest of contrasts, Yamal’s has burst into life: there really looks to be no stopping the boy from Llobregat.

The lineups

ESP: Simón; Cucurella, Laporte, Nacho, Navas; Ruiz, Rodri; Williams, Olmo, Yamal; Morata

FRA: Maignan; Hernández, Upamecano, Saliba, Koundé; Rabiot, Tchouaméni, Kanté; Kolo Muani, Mbappé, Dembélé


Response

  1. Paula Sedgley

    A brilliant report excellently written by a 17 year old you have an amazing career ahead of you…

    You caught the action in your writing

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