Spain team 'is a winning horse', says De la Fuente

Luis de la Fuente (R) celebrates after Spain progressed to the Euro 2024 semi-finals (MIGUEL MEDINA)
Luis de la Fuente (R) celebrates after Spain progressed to the Euro 2024 semi-finals (MIGUEL MEDINA)

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente lavished praise on his young side after Friday's 2-1 extra-time win over hosts Germany took them to the Euro 2024 semi-finals.

"This is a winning horse," the 63-year-old manager said, adding: "I'm proud to coach players like this, players that are insatiable.

"They're used to competing at the highest level and they have an opportunity to win the tournament."

Spain took the lead early in the second half when Dani Olmo, who came on after eight minutes for the injured Pedri, turned in a pass from 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal.

Germany hit back however in the penultimate minute of regular time when Florian Wirtz blasted in a Joshua Kimmich knock-down to level the scores and send the match to extra time.

Olmo was again crucial, this time in the 29th minute of extra time, laying on a perfect chip for Mikel Merino to head home and send his ecstatic team-mates sprinting from the bench.

Not among the major favourites before the tournament, Spain are now among the final four and will meet either France or Portugal in Tuesday's semi-final in Munich.

De la Fuente has been employed as a coach across various levels of the Spain national set-up and has mentored several players at younger age groups.

He celebrated the "historic night" and said: "I am proud we are able to represent our country.

"How far we will get, we will see, but we're absolutely convinced that we can get very far with this side.

"We are so happy, but our euphoria is totally under control. We know tomorrow is already another day."

Match-winner Merino was also full of praise for Spain's team spirit and deflected compliments away from himself.

"It was me who scored the goal but this was just proof of the family we are," said the 28-year-old Real Sociedad player.

"It was the whole team who was responsible for it and the effort we put in on the training field and in the gym.

"These are the moments nobody but us can see."