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Spain Advances to European Championship Final with 2-1 Victory Over France

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MUNICH — Spain secured their place in the European Championship final with a 2-1 win over France on Tuesday, highlighted by a historic performance from 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest-ever scorer at a major tournament.

France struck first with Randal Kolo Muani heading in a cross from Kylian Mbappé, who made headlines by playing without the protective mask he had worn since suffering a broken nose in France’s opening group game. Yamal’s brilliance shone through in the 21st minute when he scored the equalizer, and Dani Olmo netted the decisive goal just four minutes later.

“We were in a difficult stretch after not expecting to concede so early. I just took the ball and wanted to put it right there. I am very happy,” Yamal said. “I don’t try to think about it too much, just enjoy myself and help the team. If it goes my way, then I am happy for the goal and for the win.”

Spain, chasing a record fourth European Championship title, will face either England or the Netherlands in the final on Sunday in Berlin. The semifinal match between England and the Netherlands will take place on Wednesday in Dortmund.

“We knew they were a great team, and they proved it again tonight,” France coach Didier Deschamps remarked. “Even though we were fortunate to open the scoring, Spain made things difficult for us. They were superior in terms of control and technique. The team that gave the best impression was Spain. So they deserve to win tonight.”

Mbappé’s decision to play without his mask seemed to pay off immediately as he created the game’s opening goal with a tantalizing cross to the back post, headed in by Kolo Muani. This marked the first non-penalty or own-goal scored by France in Euro 2024.

Despite their early lead, France struggled to maintain control. Yamal’s stunning equalizer in the 21st minute saw him curl the ball past Mike Maignan and in off the left post from 25 yards, making history as the youngest player ever to score at a men’s European Championship or World Cup.

Spain completed their comeback four minutes later when Olmo’s shot was deflected into the net by France defender Jules Koundé. Initially ruled an own-goal, UEFA later credited Olmo with the score.

“We are very close, just one more step to go. It is incredible what the team is doing. We deserve to be in the final, one step from glory,” Olmo said. “Whether it is my goal or Koundé’s, it doesn’t matter. A goal is a goal. The important thing is that we are in the final.”

France dominated possession in the second half but failed to convert their chances. Théo Hernández and Mbappé both missed opportunities to equalize late in the game. Spain could have extended their lead when another powerful strike from Yamal narrowly missed the target.

As the final approaches, Spain looks forward to a potential record-setting fourth European Championship title, building on the momentum of their young star and resilient team performance.

Source: AP