'Genius' Yamal, 16, sets Euro record in Spain win

MUNICH — Spain coach Luis de la Fuente lauded the “genius” of Lamine Yamal after he became the youngest player to score at a men’s European Championship on Tuesday when he netted in Spain’s 2-1 semifinal win against 2018 World Cup winners France.

Yamal, 16, cancelled out Randal Kolo Muani’s opening goal with a stunning 21st-minute strike from 25 metres that was clocked at 102 km/h (60 mph) on its way past France goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Dani Olmo added Spain’s second four minutes later to complete the comeback and set up a final in Berlin on Sunday against either England or the Netherlands.

“We have seen a genius, the product of a genius,” De la Fuente said in a news conference. “He’s a player we have to take care of — I have to give him the advice to keep working with the same humility and keep his feet on the floor.

“He will keep growing, but his maturity and attitude at such a young age is already like that of a more experienced player. We are lucky he is Spanish and we can enjoy him for many more years.”

Yamal’s first goal of the tournament — he also has three assists — made him the youngest player to score at the men’s Euros at 16 years and 362 days old. The previous youngest scorer was Swiss player Johan Vonlanthen (18 years, 141 days), also against France, at Euro 2004.

It was the second significant record set at the finals by the Barcelona teenager, who had already become the youngest to feature at a Euros at 16 years and 338 days old when he took to the field for Spain’s Group B win over Croatia.

“I’m thrilled that we are in the final, but we still haven’t done the most important thing, which is win it,” said Yamal, who will turn 17 on Saturday, the eve of the final.

“We were in a difficult moment [when I scored], we didn’t expect to concede so soon. I was aiming for exactly the top corner where my shot went in and it was just a feeling of pure elation.

“I try not to think too much about what’s going on. I just want to enjoy myself and help the team. I came here to win all the matches so that I could celebrate my birthday here in Germany with all of my teammates.”

Yamal also appeared to respond to France midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who had said before the game the youngster would have to do more than he had done so far at Euro 2024 if he wanted to reach the final.

The Spain winger posted a cryptic social media post shortly after those comments on Monday, saying “speak only when it’s time to say checkmate.”

When the final whistle blew on Spain’s win over France at the Allianz Arena, Yamal said clearly to the camera: “Speak now, speak now.”

Asked who that message was for, he added: “It was for the person who it was for, they will know it was for them.”

Spain have now won all six of their matches at the Euros so far, with their style of football also earning praise in comparison to what has been perceived as a more defensive setup from pre-tournament favourites France and England.

“We try to give the players an idea, a model to follow and that makes us strong,” De la Fuente said. “We want to get the best out of these players. Everyone has to do what they believe their team can do.

“Our team has these characteristics, versatility, but fundamentally the players we have allow us to do it. We know the players and that allows us to play in different ways.

“The idea of football comes from being convinced by your ideas. It’s not chance. We want to play at what the players are good at. “

De la Fuente also played down a possible injury to captain Álvaro Morata, who was knocked over by a steward in the celebrations, saying the striker should be fine for the final, with Dani Carvajal and Robin Le Normand also set to return from suspension.

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