Spain 2-1 France: Lamine Yamal and Dani Olmo lead comeback to reach Euro 2024 final

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Spain booked their place in the Euro 2024 final as they came from behind to beat France 2-1 in a riveting encounter.

An early goal from Randal Kolo Muani could have rocked Spain, who have been the standout team at the tournament, but they regained control and took the lead after a four-minute burst in which 16-year-old Lamine Yamal fired in a sensational strike from distance and Dani Olmo then completed the turnaround with a helping boot from Jules Kounde.

That gave Spain the lead at half-time after a thrilling 45 minutes, and it was not one they relinquished. Instead it is six wins from as many matches at this tournament, and Spain will face England or the Netherlands in Sunday’s final.

Victory then and it will be the third time they lift the trophy in the last five Euros, and Luis de la Fuente’s side will be favourites to do so regardless of the opposition.

Spain were forced into three changes, with Jesus Navas and Nacho in for the suspended Dani Carvajal and Robin Le Normand, and Dani Olmo getting the nod in midfield to replace the injured Pedri. France, meanwhile, opted for a key change in attack, as Ousmane Dembele came in for Antoine Griezmann.

All eyes were on Kylian Mbappe as the match kicked off, with the Frenchman opting to ditch the mask he has worn since breaking his nose earlier in the tournament. Didier Deschamps had suggested in the build-up to the match that Mbappe would potentially have to wear if for months, but his captain paid little attention to that timeframe.

Mbappe looked far more comfortable without it and was involved inside eight minutes, as France took an early lead. He clipped a lovely cross to the back post, where Kolo Muani rose highest to head home for France’s first goal from open play in the tournament.

It was already apparent that pre-match fears of a cagey encounter could be dismissed, with it turning into a clash of relentless action at both ends, and Spain struck twice in four minutes to flip the momentum.

Lamal took centre stage, picking the ball up 25 yards out and, after failing to find an option for a pass, curled a stunning finish past Mike Maignan in off the post. That came after French midfielder Adrien Rabiot claimed pre-match that Yamal would have to “do much more” if he wanted to reach the final, advice the teenager duly put into practice.

The celebrations had barely died down when Spain then found themselves in front, as Olmo took two brilliant touches in the box and with a third fired low towards the far corner, with Kounde only able to help the ball into his own net.

Spain led at the break and within the opening moments of the restart that advantage was nearly doubled. Nico Williams was played in by Fabian Ruiz, and goalkeeper Maignan made the decision to come charging 30 yards off his line. Williams beat him to the ball, tried to dink it over the the Frenchman but the goalkeeper’s desperate slide just about halted his progress.

Chances were largely limited for France, as they went in search of an equaliser. Aurelien Tchouameni and Dayot Upamecano could both have done better with headers from corners, while Mbappe had an effort saved at the near post by Unai Simon.

Theo Hernandez fired over from the edge of the area, the sight of the ball falling on his right foot not what France needed, before Mbappe’s opportunity arrived with five minutes remaining. He drove into the box from the left, shifted inside to make room with the shot but, with only Simon to beat, blasted over.

That proved to be the final chance, another four years at least added to France’s 24-year wait for European glory. Yamal was four the last time Spain had their hands on the trophy - there is every chance his are on it in Berlin this weekend.