International Soccer

Player ratings as Lamine Yamal leads La Roja to Euro 2024 final

Spain produced a stunning comeback to knock France out of Euro 2024 and reach the final.

Much was made of Les Bleus’ tournament experience and ability to squeeze out wins, but their luck ran out on Tuesday night in Munich.

La Roja continued to play the tournament’s most exciting football and are deserving of their spot in Sunday’s final, with England or the Netherlands standing between them and a first European title in 12 years.

How the game unfolded

Spain carved out the game’s first chance five minutes in when a deep Lamine Yamal cross found the run of Fabian Ruiz, but his header from six yards sailed over.

And they were swiftly made to pay as France went down the other end and scored with their first attack, which was eerily identical to Spain’s. Kylian Mbappe – free from the shackles of his protective mask – floated in a lovely cross for Randal Kolo Muani, who peeled away from Aymeric Laporte and guided his header into the far corner, ending Les Bleus’ barren run without an open play goal this tournament.

But Spain came roaring back in some style through Yamal, who became the youngest scorer in European Championship history, dancing inside from the left and finding the top corner with a sensational strike.

Minutes later, the game had turned completely on its head. France failed to deal with a loose ball in their own box, and Dani Olmo’s strike was deflected into his own net by Jules Kounde.

France ramped up their search for an equaliser after half-time, with Aurelien Tchouameni first bringing a save out of Unai Simon with a header from a corner.

Simon was then alert to beat away a low cross from Ousmane Dembele that threatened to either reach the onrushing Mbappe or sneak in at the near post as Les Bleus, for the first time all tournament, put their foot on the accelerator.

Another corner saw Dayot Upamecano rise over Nacho Fernandez but head his effort into the ground, with the ball bouncing just over the crossbar on the way back up.

Fabian Ruiz cheaply gave the ball away on the edge of his own box and Theo Hernandez was able to line up a free strike from 18 yards, only for his weak-footed strike to sail over.

Spain were keen to slow play down and Yamal had another stab at goal at the end of a well-worked move, though this time his effort flew behind Maignan’s goal instead of into it.

Mbappe at long last had some space to run into with five minutes remaining, and though he was able to successfully cut inside Daniel Vivian, he couldn’t keep his resulting strike down.

That proved to be France’s last chance and Spain rode out five minutes of added time to secure their place in the final.

Lamine Yamal

Spain were magnificent / Qian Jun/MB Media/GettyImages

GK: Unai Simon – 6/10 – Came up with routine saves when called upon. Made some strange calls when on the ball and was perhaps a little fortunate this wasn’t punished.

RB: Jesus Navas – 5/10 – Roasted by Mbappe but at least came up with the cross that led to Olmo’s go-ahead goal. Withdrawn early in the second half with muscular discomfort.

CB: Nacho Fernandez – 7/10 – Finished the game at right-back after Navas had to be taken off, but no matter where he played looked well up to the task.

CB: Aymeric Laporte – 6/10 – Lost the run of Kolo Muani for France’s opening goal but recovered afterwards, retaining the confidence to bring the ball out from the back.

LB: Marc Cucurella – 7/10 – Was as dogged as ever in his pursuit of another win. Not as meaningfully impactful on this occasion but was still a positive for Spain, in part because Dembele was seemingly intent on being self-destructive.

CM: Rodri – 8/10 – The calm and composed head in midfield. Sometimes didn’t know when exactly to slow play down or speed it up, but it mattered little in the end.

CM: Fabian Ruiz – 7/10 – Similarly guilty of a few lapses in his usual greatness, though for the most part was able to glide past France’s helpless midfielders.

RW: Lamine Yamal – 9/10 – Wow. People will talk about Yamal’s goal for generations to come. Played with the edge of an experienced veteran too, coming up with a cynical foul and running down the clock when necessary. Checkmate, Rabiot.

AM: Dani Olmo – 9/10 – The decision to persist with Pedri as a starter this tournament will be questioned after another phenomenal display crashing the box. Scored the winner which takes Spain to Berlin.

LW: Nico Williams – 7/10 – Tangibly didn’t have a say in the game but he still gave Kounde and co plenty to think about with his pace and agility.

CF: Alvaro Morata – 6/10 – Lacked any scoring presence but worked ever so hard for his team and linked play tremendously. A captain’s performance more than a striker’s performance.

Substitutes

SUB: Daniel Vivian (57′ for Navas) – 6/10

SUB: Mikel Merino (76′ for Olmo) – 7/10

SUB: Mikel Oyarzabal (76′ for Morata) – 6/10

SUB: Ferran Torres (90′ for Yamal) – N/A

SUB: Martin Zubimendi (90′ for Williams) – N/A

Subs not used: David Raya (GK), Alex Remiro (GK), Alejandro Grimaldo, Alex Baena, Fermin Lopez, Ayoze Perez, Joselu

Manager

Luis de la Fuente – 9/10 – Spain showed unfathomable resolve to not only beat a winning machine like France, but to come from behind too while sticking to their principles. Bravo.

Randal Kolo Muani

France scored early on / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

GK: Mike Maignan – 6/10 – Couldn’t do much about either strike. Appeared to strain his calf when sweeping up to deny Williams a chance at goal.

RB: Jules Kounde – 5/10 – Fingers will be pointed at Kounde in regards to Olmo’s winner but it’s hard to tell how well he should have done. Endured a back-and-forth battle with Williams.

CB: Dayot Upamecano – 5/10 – A touch slower to react to danger as he has been for most of this tournament.

CB: William Saliba – 5/10 – Likewise lacked that imperious strength and prowess that had carried France to this stage of Euro 2024.

LB: Theo Hernandez – 4/10 – Will be glad to see the back of Yamal. Missed a huge chance late in the day with France chasing an equaliser.

CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 5/10 – Bossed by Rodri. Just didn’t have the same calmness to get the defining grip on proceedings.

CM: N’Golo Kante – 5/10 – Swept up characteristically well but was both limited and a little bit of a liability in possession. Taken off as part of Deschamps’ attacking changes.

CM: Adrien Rabiot – 2/10 – Laid down the gauntlet to Yamal pre-match and was made to eat his words by the 16-year-old. Hauled off just after an hour having put in a terrible shift.

RW: Ousmane Dembele – 4/10 – A strange, strange night littered with poor passes, under or over-hit crosses and off touches. The only positive of note was finding Mbappe prior to Kolo Muani’s opener.

CF: Randal Kolo Muani – 7/10 – Took his goal incredibly well, sneaking away from Laporte and coming up with a great header. Put himself about before being taken off for a tricky winger in Barcola.

LW: Kylian Mbappe – 6/10 – Opted to play without his protective but prohibitive mask, and in the first half that looked a wise choice, continually getting at Navas and setting up Kolo Muani’s goal. But as the game wore on, Mbappe’s impact lessened and he couldn’t be France’s hero.

Substitutes

SUB: Bradley Barcola (63′ for Kolo Muani) – 6/10

SUB: Antoine Griezmann (63′ for Kante) – 5/10

SUB: Eduardo Camavinga (63′ for Rabiot) – 5/10

SUB: Olivier Giroud (79′ for Dembele) – 5/10

Subs not used: Brice Samba (GK), Alphonse Areola (GK), Benjamin Pavard, Jonathan Clauss, Ibrahima Konate, Ferland Mendy, Youssouf Fofana, Warren Zaire-Emery, Kingsley Coman, Marcus Thuram

Manager

Didier Deschamps – 5/10 – France’s run as tournament buzzsaws is over. It may be time for reinvention.

Player of the match – Lamine Yamal (Spain)

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