Football Features

Lamine Yamal makes Adrien Rabiot eat his words as Spain beat France to reach Euro 2024 final

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:09, 9 July 2024

Spain are now just one win away from a record-breaking fourth European Championship win as they beat France 2-1 to reach the Euro 2024 final.

It took France less than 10 minutes to take the lead with Randall Kolo Muani scoring from a header at the back post, their first goal from open play at Euro 2024. But the lead lasted just over 10 minutes before Lamine Yamal scored a wonderful, record-breaking, equaliser. And shortly after it was 2-1 to Spain thanks to Dani Olmo.

And that would be all she wrote as Spain held on to secure another European Championship final appearance.

Here’s how the players rated at the Allianz Arena:

Spain

Unai Simon – 6 – Was beaten by Kolo Muani’s header in the first half but otherwise didn’t have too much to do apart from claim a handful of Dembele crosses.

Jesus Navas – 6 – The oldest ever outfield player to appear in a semi-final at a major international tournament, Navas had an interesting game. He got involved early on, covering well to clear a ball before it got to Mbappe, but then there was a period of struggle. He played Mbappe onside in the build up to France’s goal and then failed to close him down, before being booked for a desperate foul on Rabiot. He did improve after that, however, before having to come off.

Nacho – 6 – Was a bit naughty with a challenge on Kolo Muani early on, pushing his head into the ground with some force. Pushed over to right after Navas was taken off, facing up against Mbappe and then Barcola. The latter gave him some problems.

Aymeric Laporte – 7 – Unaware of Kolo Muani pulling off behind him for his goal, but that was the only real blip in what was an otherwise comfortable performance.

Marc Cucurella – 8 – Was booed by fans in Munich, presumably Germans still unhappy about not being awarded a penalty for his alleged handball. But he didn’t let that faze him, looking superb as he has all tournament.

Dani Olmo – 7 – Made the second goal all by himself. Brought down an attempted clearance with a wonderful first touch, before turning Tchouameni inside out with his second. His third was a low, driven shot that was going in before Kounde bundled it in.

Rodri – 8 – As he almost always does, Rodri made things look easy in the middle of the pitch. He kept things ticking for Spain and ensured they were on top of the midfield battle, eventually taking them to the Euro 2024 final.

Fabian Ruiz – 7 – Got into good positions, and perhaps should have done better to get his header on target having made a run to the far post from Yamal’s cross in fifth minute. But alongside Rodri he helped keep things going.

Lamine Yamal – 7 – A record-breaking game for the 16-year-old. He’s the youngest player to appear in the semi-final at a major men’s international tournament, breaking the record previously held by Pele at the 1958 World Cup. He then became the youngest ever goalscorer at a major men’s international tournament, breaking Pele’s record from the 1958 World Cup.

He had shown signs of his quality early on with a good cross for Fabian, but no one will remember that now because of his goal. Just a few days before his 17th birthday, Yamal drew Spain level with a wonder strike, curling into the top corner from around 30 yards out, giving the goalkeeper no chance. Was much quieter in the second half, but did try his luck from a similar position in the final 10 minutes, sending his shot over.

Alvaro Morata – 7 – A very good, selfless centre-forward’s performance. The Spanish captain was a constant nuisance for the French defence, particularly focussing on Saliba. He used his body well to show strength when he needed to but was also happy to go to ground to earn a cheap free-kick for his team. Won four fouls in total, more than any other player.

Nico Williams – 7 – The unsung hero of the attacking trio on the night, Williams had Kounde on toast in the first half. He gave the Barcelona defender a lot of problems with his direct running on and off the ball.

Substitutes:

Dani Vivian (for Navas 58) – 6 – Came on at centre-back and did have some problems with Mbappe, but ultimately held firm.

Mikel Merino (for Olmo 76) – 6 – Added fresh legs to the midfield.

Mikel Oyarzabal (for Morata 76) – 6 – Gave Spain a new outlet up front late on.

Ferran Torres (for Yamal 90) – N/A – A late sub.

Martin Zubimendi (for Williams 90) – N/A – A late sub.


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France

Mike Maignan – 5 – Could do nothing about either of the goals. Pulled out a wonderful tackle to dispossess Williams early in the second half when he couldn’t afford to get it wrong.

Jules Kounde – 6 – Was the unfortunate man put the ball over the line for Spain’s second and that summed up his first half. He really struggled against Nico Williams having been on top form for most of the tournament. But he did step up in the second half, well-matched for Williams, and made three tackles.

Dayot Upamecano – 5 – Was part of a weak centre-back partnership that looked as though they didn’t know what to do with Spain’s attack.

William Saliba – 5 – Didn’t get enough on his headed clearance for Spain’s second goal, which eventually proved to be the winner. An off night.

Theo Hernandez – 5 – Up against it facing Yamal and he squandered a few chances going forward.

N’Golo Kante – 5 – Although he covered a lot of ground, Kante really wasn’t at his usual level. And when he’s not at his usual level, France suffer as they’re only playing with 11 players rather than 12.

Aurelien Tchouameni – 5 – Part of a poor midfield for France that cost them the game. Was turned in the box by Olmo for the winning goal, but was the only starter in France’s midfield to finish the match.

Adrien Rabiot – 4 – In the build up to the game, Rabiot laid the gauntlet down to Yamal, saying: “It is always complicated to manage a semi-final in a tournament like that, but it will be up to us to put the pressure on him above all, not to let him feel comfortable and to show him that to play in a Euro final, he will have to do much more than what he has done so far.”

Well, wouldn’t you just know it was Rabiot who allowed Yamal the space to shoot outside the box for his goal. Overall the Juventus midfielder struggled against a far superior midfield, pressed closely when trying to build from the back.

Ousmane Dembele – 5 – Ran at Cucurella a lot and thrived in that aspect of his game. But when it came to putting the ball into the box and finding a teammate, he was shocking, constantly cutting back to no one or finding Simon’s hands. A really frustrating player, with 16 crosses.

Randal Kolo Muani – 5 – Squandered an early chance for France with a poor pass to Mbappe, putting just a bit too much pace on the ball. But he put France ahead in the ninth minute with a nice header, peeling off at the far post from Mbappe’s cross. It was the only goal they’ve scored from open play at the tournament. But after that he wasn’t really involved in the French attack.

Kylian Mbappe – 5 – Playing without the mask, Mbappe looked closer to the man we all expected at Euro 2024 in the first half. It was his wonderfully-weighted cross to the far post that set up Kolo Muani’s goal. But that was all we got from him. Mbappe flattered to deceive and, like Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal, actually worked against France at times being a bit too single-minded.

Substitutes:

Edouardo Camavinga (for Rabiot 62) – 6 – A lot calmer on the ball than the rest of France’s midfielders, passing well.

Antoine Griezmann (for Kante 62) – 6 – Added a new dimension to France’s attack, though it didn’t bring anything in the end.

Bradley Barcola (for Kolo Muani 62) – 6 – Looked really dangerous after coming on, arguably France’s best attacker.

Olivier Giroud (for Dembele 79) – 5 – Couldn’t really get involved after coming on.

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