Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Spain beat France in thriller to set up Euro 2024 final against England or Netherlands

Must read

Spain overcame France to set up a Euro 2024 final against either England or the Netherlands (Picture: Getty)

A Lamine Yamal-inspired Spain booked their place in the final of Euro 2024 after coming from behind to beat France 2-1 in a pulsating encounter at Munich’s Allianz Arena.

France got off to the perfect start as Randal Kolo Muani headed home a pinpoint Kylian Mbappe cross at the back post to open the scoring after only eight minutes of this evening’s heavyweight semi-final.

But Spain scored two goals in quick succession to turn the game on its head midway through the first half, with Yamal finding a historic equaliser from 25 yards out before Dani Olmo’s deflected strike put Luis de la Fuente’s side in front.

Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Theo Hernandez all squandered huge opportunities to level the score in an absorbing second half but Spain held firm to secure their spot in Sunday’s showpiece.

Ahead of their nation’s first appearance at a major final since Euro 2012, Spanish supporters will be nervously awaiting updates over the fitness of Alvaro Morata, who was brought down by a security guard in a freak incident after the final whistle.

After knocking out tournament hosts Germany and two-time champions France, De la Fuente’s men will now begin preparations to face one of England or the Netherlands, who do battle in Wednesday’s semi-final in Dortmund.

Kolo Muani
France opened the scoring through Kolo Muani in the eighth minute (Picture: Getty)

Yamal put the ball on a plate for Fabian Ruiz as Spain created the first real opportunity of the game in the fifth minute but the unmarked Paris Saint-Germain midfielder ballooned his header over the crossbar from near point-blank range.

France looked to hit back immediately at the other end of the pitch before 38-year-old Jesus Navas – the oldest player to feature in a European Championship semi-final – got across superbly to shut out Mbappe.

The attack proved a stark early warning for Spain, though, with Kolo Muani heading home an exquisite cross from Mbappe to break the deadlock just moments later with what was France’s first goal from open play this summer.

An unmasked Mbappe, threatening to return to his frightening best, came close to doubling the French lead in the 19th minute but the forward’s strike was well blocked before it could reach Unai Simon in the Spain goal.

Lamine Yamal
Yamal scored an astonishing first-half equaliser in Munich (Picture: Getty)

As France probed in search of a second, 16-year-old Yamal took centre-stage with a moment of sheer brilliance to level the score, further cementing his status as one of the most exciting young talents in world football.

Latching onto William Saliba’s interception, the teenage Barcelona sensation sent Adrien Rabiot both ways before unleashing a swerving 25-yard strike into the top corner.

The magnificent effort saw Yamal become the youngest ever scorer at either a Euros or a World Cup, eclipsing the previous record set by a 17-year-old Pele back in 1958.

With Les Blues seemingly shellshocked, a reinvigorated Spain took the lead and turned the game on its head in the space of just four minutes as the lively Olmo – starting in place of the injured Pedri – found the back of Mike Maignan’s net via a hefty Jules Kounde deflection.

Dani Olmo
Olmo gave Spain the lead just four minutes after Yamal’s wondergoal (Picture: Getty)

Tchouameni had a glorious chance to equalise from a 53rd-minute corner but the midfielder’s tame header, France’s first serious opportunity of the second period, was easily dealt with by Simon.

The Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper was then called upon a two more times in quick succession, keeping out Mbappe and Dembele as France applied pressure in a promising start after the break.

Deschamps rang the changes just past the hour-mark and the triple substitution appeared to inject new life into the French, with Bradley Barcola coming on and causing problems down the left flank.

In the 76th minute, some poor Spanish defending saw the ball fall invitingly to Theo Hernandez, who found himself in acres of space on the edge of the box. But the AC Milan full-back snatched at his effort and blazed over from distance.

Just as France looked to be growing in confidence and gaining the upper hand, Yamal provided another reminder of his audacious talent with a curled strike that whistled past Maignan’s upright.

With five minutes remaining, Mbappe made inroads into Spain’s penalty area but fired a wild shot well over the crossbar, much to the relief of a despairing De la Fuente in the dugout.

While Spain stood strong to seal their spot in this weekend’s final, there is some concern surrounding the fitness of their captain Morata after pictures emerged of the forward being scythed down by a security guard in the aftermath of the win.

Spain manager Luis de la Fuente
De la Fuene has no preference between England and the Netherlands (Picture: Getty)

‘It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, we’ve already seen the journey we’ve had at Euro 2024,’ Spain head coach De le Fuente said at his post-match press conference when asked if he had a preference between England and the Netherlands.

‘They are two great rivals and we are waiting for them with open arms.’

Asked if it would be best for football if Spain beat England in the final, De la Fuente replied: ‘All we do is try and be strong in our idea.

‘We are happy to have reached this final.

‘We have been able to reach the final again and take Spain to where it belongs in sport.’


MORE : ITV soap scheduling chaos as Emmerdale and Coronation Street pulled from TV


MORE : Gary Neville suspects England star has been getting injections to keep playing at Euro 2024


MORE : England starting XI team for Euro 2024 semi-final vs Netherlands revealed

Latest article