Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Spain Beats France 2-1 to Reach Euro 2024 Final with Yamal Youngest-Ever Scorer at the Tournament

 Spain's Lamine Yamal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during a semifinal match between Spain and France at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Munich, Germany, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (AP)
Spain's Lamine Yamal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during a semifinal match between Spain and France at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Munich, Germany, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (AP)
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Spain Beats France 2-1 to Reach Euro 2024 Final with Yamal Youngest-Ever Scorer at the Tournament

 Spain's Lamine Yamal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during a semifinal match between Spain and France at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Munich, Germany, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (AP)
Spain's Lamine Yamal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during a semifinal match between Spain and France at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Munich, Germany, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (AP)

Spain reached the European Championship final with a 2-1 victory over France on Tuesday with 16-year-old Lamine Yamal becoming the youngest-ever scorer at the tournament.

France took an early lead when Randal Kolo Muani headed in a cross from Kylian Mbappé, who played without a mask, before Yamal’s moment of brilliance in the 21st minute. Dani Olmo scored what was to prove the winner four minutes later.

"We were in a difficult stretch after not expecting to concede so early. I just took the ball and wanted to put it right there. I am very happy," Yamal said.

"I don’t try to think about it too much, just enjoy myself and help the team, and if it goes my way, then I am happy (for the goal) and for the win."

Spain, which is chasing a record fourth European Championship title, will play England or the Netherlands in the final on Sunday in Berlin.

They play each other in Dortmund on Wednesday.

"We knew they were a great team, and they proved it again tonight," France coach Didier Deschamps said. "Even though we were fortunate to open the scoring, Spain made things difficult for us.

"They were superior in terms of control and technique. The team that gave the best impression was Spain. So they deserve to win tonight."

There was surprise in Munich when Mbappé took to the field without the mask he has been wearing since getting his nose broken in France’s opening group game at Euro 2024.

Mbappé had been complaining the mask was impeding him, and ditching it appeared to have an immediate effect as he created the game’s opening goal in the ninth minute with a tantalizing cross to the back post that was headed in by Randal Kolo Muani.

That was the first goal France had scored at Euro 2024 that wasn’t a penalty or an own-goal. Fortunately for Les Bleus they had also been exceptional at the back, allowing just one goal, a retaken penalty by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in the group stage.

But there was no stopping Yamal’s stunning equalizer in the 21st minute as he became the youngest player ever to score at a men’s European Championship when he curled the ball past Mike Maignan and in off the left post from 25 yards.

And Spain turned the match around completely four minutes later when Olmo’s goalbound-shot was turned into his own net by France defender Jules Koundé. It was originally adjudged by UEFA to have been an own-goal but was later awarded to Olmo.

"We are very close, just one more step to go. It is incredible what the team is doing. We deserve to be in the final, one step from glory," Olmo said. "Whether it is my goal, or Koundé’s, it doesn’t matter. A goal is a goal. The important thing is that we are in the final."

France dominated possession in the second half but couldn’t make it count.

Théo Hernández should have done better when he blazed a good chance over the bar late on, and Mbappé did similar with four minutes remaining.

Spain could have been further ahead between those chances as another powerful strike from Yamal flew narrowly over the crossbar.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : US Men's Basketball Team Builds Gig Lead then Holds off Australia for 98-92 win in Olympics Tuneup

Jock Landale scored 20 for Australia, which got 17 from Josh Giddey and 14 from Dyson Daniels, The AP reported. The AP
Jock Landale scored 20 for Australia, which got 17 from Josh Giddey and 14 from Dyson Daniels, The AP reported. The AP
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US Men's Basketball Team Builds Gig Lead then Holds off Australia for 98-92 win in Olympics Tuneup

Jock Landale scored 20 for Australia, which got 17 from Josh Giddey and 14 from Dyson Daniels, The AP reported. The AP
Jock Landale scored 20 for Australia, which got 17 from Josh Giddey and 14 from Dyson Daniels, The AP reported. The AP

There was a lot for the US Olympic team to like on Monday. And a lot not to like.

Anthony Davis scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Tyrese Haliburton came up with a pair of late 3-pointers that helped stop a freefall by the Americans, and the US beat Australia 98-92 on Monday to improve to 2-0 in its five-game slate of exhibitions leading into the Paris Olympics.

Devin Booker scored 16 for the US, Anthony Edwards scored 14 and three players — LeBron James, Bam Adebayo and Joel Embiid — finished with 10 for the Americans, who are playing host to a pair of exhibitions at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, this week. They'll play Serbia there on Wednesday.

Jock Landale scored 20 for Australia, which got 17 from Josh Giddey and 14 from Dyson Daniels, The AP reported.

The US led by 24 midway through the third quarter, yet saw that lead cut to six with 5:05 left after Australia went on a 39-21 run. But Haliburton had the next six points on his 3s, pushing the lead back to 92-80.

Australia cut it to four on two separate occasions, but Booker went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 8 seconds to ensure the US would escape.

“Third quarter, we started turning the ball over," US coach Steve Kerr said. "We gave up a ton of points at the basket. Back cuts, offensive boards and so, the game shifted. It's a good lesson for us. Better to learn that lesson now than later. And this will be a good tape for us to watch. But I give Australia a ton of credit. They were great. They fought. They were really physical. Took it to us in the last quarter and a half and really made it a game.”

Second unit, again Just like in the Canada game, the so-called second unit — Haliburton, Jrue Holiday, Adebayo, Davis and Booker — changed the game.

That was the group on the floor when the Americans took a game that was tied at 19-19 with 3:15 left in the first and turned it into a 39-23 lead — a 20-4 run in a span of just over 5 minutes.

Kerr used that group as his starting five to open the second half. But it’s become a clear trend already: when the US goes to its bench and can replace All-Stars with other All-Stars, it’s just going to be a massive problem for opponents who don’t have anywhere near that same level of depth.

“The strength of our team is our depth and we have to utilize our depth,” Kerr said.

It’s been something the Americans have used to their advantage in the past. Dwyane Wade led the gold-medalist 2008 US Olympic team in points, even though he was sixth in minutes on that team and came off the bench in all eight games.

Turnovers Here’s the big trouble sign right now for the US: turnovers.

FIBA games are shorter than NBA games, 40 minutes instead of 48 minutes. That means there are fewer possessions and makes it even more imperative to not give the ball away.

Which the Americans did. A lot.

After committing 15 turnovers in last week's exhibition win over Canada, the US had 18 giveaways on Monday and Australia used them to fuel the comeback effort — getting 25 points off turnovers in the second half alone.

“Our turnovers, it's all about focus and execution,” Davis said.

Injury watch Kevin Durant missed his second consecutive game because of a calf strain, and with only one practice between games it wouldn’t seem likely that he plays Wednesday against Serbia either.

Derrick White, who arrived in Abu Dhabi over the weekend and got into his first practice with the team on Sunday, also didn’t play. White replaced Kawhi Leonard — who deals with knee issues — on the US roster after the Americans determined last week that it wasn’t in Leonard’s best interest to play this summer.