HomeEuro 2024Lamine Yamal Stuns at Euros: A Star is Born for Spain

Lamine Yamal Stuns at Euros: A Star is Born for Spain

Yamal’s Magic at the Allianz Arena: Spain’s Bright Future Unveiled

A Moment of Magic at the Allianz Arena

A tear in the universe opened up at the Allianz Arena. It was a moment invisible to the other 21 players on the pitch, including France’s goalkeeper Mike Maignan, and the 75,000 fans in the stands. Suddenly, it appeared. Pedri, on the Spanish bench, clasped his hands from his neck to his face, terrified by what he had just witnessed. His teammate, Lamine Yamal, had cut through the fabric of reality with his left foot, opening a portal to the Euros final—a glimpse into Yamal’s immense potential.

Yamal’s Journey: From Young Fan to Hero

Time seemed to travel with the ball as it went from outside to inside the far post. Yamal, only 13 during the last Euros three years ago, had watched Spain’s defeat to Italy in the semi-finals with his friends at a shopping centre. Dani Olmo, the man of the match in that game, missed a crucial penalty in the shootout. But in Munich, Yamal demonstrated that an alternative reality was possible.

Photo: IMAGO

Olmo scored the winner against France, an exquisite goal marked by its dexterity and affirmation of Spanish technical supremacy. Playing with the confidence of someone who had scored in three consecutive games, Olmo left France in a state of sheer disbelief and disorientation.

The Equaliser and Yamal’s Impact

Just four minutes earlier, Yamal had cancelled out France’s opener. Up until then, it seemed like it might be Kylian Mbappe’s night. Mbappe had discarded his protective mask like a gladiator discarding armour in the Colosseum. With his vision unimpaired, he made a statement of intent. Within 10 minutes, Mbappe even set up Randal Kolo Muani, a player who had missed crucial opportunities in the past, to score.

In this tournament, no team had managed to come back against France. They were deemed unbeatable, with Maignan only conceding a penalty from Yamal’s Barcelona teammate, Robert Lewandowski, in a previous match. Maignan had saved Lewandowski’s first attempt, only for the referee to order a retake due to encroachment. Beating him required something extraordinary, something out of this world. “We were in a difficult moment,” Yamal acknowledged. “Nobody expected to concede a goal so early.”

The Moment of Brilliance

When a Fabian Ruiz roulette ended in a tangle 30 yards from goal, Yamal seized the loose ball, determined to puncture the enthusiasm behind the French goal. “I picked up the ball, and I did not think about it, I tried to put it where it went, and I’m just very happy.”

Standing against him was France’s imposing midfielder, Adrien Rabiot. Clearly, Yamal felt Rabiot needed to be put in his place. On the eve of the game, Rabiot had commented on Yamal’s ability to handle stress and his qualities on the field, but questioned his capacity to perform in a major tournament semi-final. Yamal responded on Instagram with a chess metaphor, “Move in silence. Only speak when it’s time to say ‘checkmate’.”

Yamal’s move came in the 21st minute. He initially hid the ball, wrapping his left foot around it to go outside Rabiot, then revealed it by nudging it inside with the same boot. Rabiot, moving like an Arctic crab, failed to intercept the ball. Maignan, covering his goal as best he could, couldn’t shut out the brilliance of Yamal’s talent. “Habla! Habla!” Yamal shouted at Rabiot. “Talk! Talk!” All the Frenchman’s talk had been cheap. Yamal’s strike, however, was priceless. “We saw a touch of genius,” Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said.

Youngest Goalscorer in Euros History

Yamal’s shot challenged the notion that perfection is unattainable. “His shot was magnifique,” Didier Deschamps praised. At 16 years and 362 days, Yamal became the youngest goalscorer in Euros history. He would turn 17 on the eve of the final. The only gift Yamal desired was victory. “My objective was to celebrate my birthday here in Germany. And I am very happy to celebrate it here with the team.” He added, “I told my mum she does not need to buy me any present if we manage to win the final.”

As Yamal slid towards the enraptured Spanish bench in a state of euphoria, memories of a similar goal he scored against Mallorca flashed before the eyes of the Catalan journalists. But this was better, for the occasion and the way it made Mbappe puff his cheeks in awe and helplessness. “I don’t know if it’s the best goal of the tournament,” Yamal said. “But it’s the most special for me.”

Rodri’s Praise and Spain’s Celebration

While Yamal’s display will be remembered for the goal, Rodri expanded on his performance. “I personally went over to Lamine and congratulated him for his performance,” he said. “People will remember the game for his goal, but I thanked him for his defensive commitment. The recoveries, the tracking back, how he helped out the full-back. It’s been outstanding for a guy his age. I really rate this.”

At the end of the game, the Spanish players celebrated their victory by huddling together and jumping up and down. Yamal stood apart initially, near the halfway line, like a star from a galaxy far, far away. His brilliance had brought Spain to the brink of Euros glory, a promise of what was to come.

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