Mikel Oyarzabal Scores Late Winner to Lead Spain to History-Making European Championship Title

Mikel Oyarzabal is being heralded a hero after helping lead Spain to a historic title.

The 27-year-old Spanish professional footballer, who came into the game as a substitute, struck in the 87th minute to give Spain a dramatic 2-1 victory over England on Sunday in the European Championship final at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, helping lead his country to a record fourth Euro crown.

Mikel Oyarzabal“Losing in a final is as tough as it gets,” said England captain Harry Kane. “We did really well to get back into the game but we didn’t quite keep the same intensity and pressure I guess. We couldn’t quite keep the ball and we got punished for it.”

After an extremely cautious first half in which Spain had more possession and their opponents got the only shot on target, it only took two minutes after the restart for the Spaniards to break the deadlock.

Yamal found space down the right and crossed for fellow winger Williams to slot home as England fell behind for the fourth successive match.

Spain then enjoyed a purple patch with a series of sharp attacks as England’s previously watertight defense fell apart and Dani Olmo, Morata and Williams all had good chances.

England boss Gareth Southgate reacted by sending on Ollie Watkins, the goal-scoring substitute hero of the semifinal, for an ineffective Kane after an hour, with Palmer, their most creative player for the past month, joining him 10 minutes later.

It paid off almost immediately when Jude Bellingham laid the ball back into Palmer’s path and the substitute curled home a precise low 20-meter shot in the 73rd minute.

The massed ranks of England fans, who vastly outnumbered their rivals, exploded, and the whole feel of the night changed.

Spain weathered the storm and a lapse of concentration saw England undone as Oyarzabal poked the ball home.

There was still time for more drama at the other end as Spain goalkeeper Unai Simón parried a Declan Rice header from a corner and Olmo blocked Marc Guehi’s follow up on the line.

Spain survived to add a fourth title to those won in 1964, 2008 and 2012 and became only the third team in the last nine Euros to win the trophy without coming through a shootout at some point in the tournament following France (2000) and Greece (2004).

Spain’s Lamine Yamal Becomes Youngest Player to Score at Men’s European Championship

Lamine Yamal has earned a place in soccer history…

Spain coach Luis de la Fuente lauded the “genius” of the 16-year-old Spanish soccer phenom after he became the youngest player to score at a men’s European Championship on Tuesday when he scored in Spain’s 2-1 semifinal win against 2018 World Cup winners France.

Lamine YamalYamal cancelled out Randal Kolo Muani‘s opening goal with a stunning 21st-minute strike from 25 meters that was clocked at 102 km/h (60 mph) on its way past France goalkeeper Mike Maignan. 

Dani Olmo added Spain’s second four minutes later to complete the comeback and set up a final in Berlin on Sunday against either England or the Netherlands.

“We have seen a genius, the product of a genius,” de la Fuente said in a news conference. “He’s a player we have to take care of — I have to give him the advice to keep working with the same humility and keep his feet on the floor.

“He will keep growing, but his maturity and attitude at such a young age is already like that of a more experienced player. We are lucky he is Spanish and we can enjoy him for many more years.”

Yamal’s first goal of the tournament — he also has three assists — made him the youngest player to score at the men’s Euros at 16 years and 362 days old. The previous youngest scorer was Swiss player Johan Vonlanthen (18 years, 141 days), also against France, at Euro 2004.

It was the second significant record set at the finals by the Barcelona teenager, who had already become the youngest to feature at a Euros at 16 years and 338 days old when he took to the field for Spain’s Group B win over Croatia.

“I’m thrilled that we are in the final, but we still haven’t done the most important thing, which is win it,” said Yamal, who will turn 17 on Saturday, the eve of the final.

“We were in a difficult moment [when I scored], we didn’t expect to concede so soon. I was aiming for exactly the top corner where my shot went in and it was just a feeling of pure elation.

“I try not to think too much about what’s going on. I just want to enjoy myself and help the team. I came here to win all the matches so that I could celebrate my birthday here in Germany with all of my teammates.”

Yamal also appeared to respond to France midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who had said before the game the youngster would have to do more than he had done so far at Euro 2024 if he wanted to reach the final.

The Spain winger posted a cryptic social media post shortly after those comments on Monday, saying “speak only when it’s time to say checkmate.”

When the final whistle blew on Spain’s win over France at the Allianz Arena, Yamal said clearly to the camera: “Speak now, speak now.”

Asked who that message was for, he added: “It was for the person who it was for, they will know it was for them.”

Spain have now won all six of their matches at the Euros so far, with their style of football also earning praise in comparison to what has been perceived as a more defensive setup from pre-tournament favorites France and England.

“We try to give the players an idea, a model to follow and that makes us strong,” de la Fuente said. “We want to get the best out of these players. Everyone has to do what they believe their team can do.

“Our team has these characteristics, versatility, but fundamentally the players we have allow us to do it. We know the players and that allows us to play in different ways.

“The idea of football comes from being convinced by your ideas. It’s not chance. We want to play at what the players are good at. ”

de la Fuente also played down a possible injury to captain Álvaro Morata, who was knocked over by a steward in the celebrations, saying the striker should be fine for the final, with Dani Carvajal anRobin Le Normand also set to return from suspension.

Lionel Messi Breaks Record for Most Copa America Appearances

Lionel Messi has broken another record in his illustrious career…

The 36-year-old Argentine professional footballer is the new record-holder for appearances at the Copa América, making his 35th after getting the start for Argentina in their tournament opening 2-0 win over Canada on Thursday.

Lionel MessiThe Inter Miami CF striker passed Chile‘s Sergio Livingstone (34 caps) with his spot in Lionel Scaloni‘s starting XI in Atlanta. Brazil‘s Zizinho (33 caps) and Víctor Agustín Ugarte (30) of Bolívia round out the top four.

The forward debuted in the CONMEBOL tournament in 2007, starting a match against Venezuela under former Argentina manager Alfio Basile. Messi went on to feature in La Albicelete‘s six matches in 2007, including a 3-0 final loss to Brazil.

Since then, Messi has played in the 2011, ’15, ’16, ’19, ’21 and ’24 editions of Copa América to reach his total of 35 appearances. Argentina won the title three years ago to bring their total number of Copa wins to 15, but it was the first time they had done so during the Messi era.

The legendary forward could also soon break the record for most goals scored in Copa América.

He currently stands at 13 in 35 games, and would tie Argentine Norberto Méndez and Zizinho at 17 if he scored four during the U.S.-hosted competition.

A win at the Copa América would make Argentina the first team in South American history to secure three consecutive major tournament titles, having won the 2021 edition and the 2022 World CupSpain are the only team to have achieved that feat after winning the European Championship in 2008 and 2012, either side of their 2010 World Cup win.

Spain’s Lamine Yamal Becomes Youngest Player to Ever Feature at European Championship

Lamine Yamal has etched his name in the European soccer history books…

The 16-year-old Spanish soccer player became the youngest player to ever feature at the European Championship on Saturday in Spain‘s Group B win against Croatia in Berlin.

Lamine YamalAt 16 years and 338 days old, Yamal takes the record from Poland midfielder Kacper Kozłowski, who was 17 years and 246 days old when he came off at the bench at Euro 2020 (which was played in 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic) against Spain.

That was the second time in the tournament the record had fallen, with England‘s Jude Bellingham having previously bettered the mark set by Netherlands left-back Jetro Willems at Euro 2012.

“He just keeps on breaking records,” Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said of Yamal in his post-game news conference. “He’s growing, maturing and getting better every day.

“He’s on the path to be a great player, but he’s very young and we have to be patient with him.”

Yamal set up Spain’s third goal in the 3-0 win over Croatia, providing an excellent cross for Dani Carvajal as the three-time champions got their tournament off to the best possible start.

“I’m very happy for the win, for the debut and now we change our focus to the next game,” Yamal said afterward. “In the end, the team wants to play inside and I’m here to help the team, to defend, whatever it takes.

“We are a very efficient team because the work we’ve put in over the last few months has shown today.”

While Yamal became the youngest ever player in Euros history, Carvajal’s goal made him Spain’s oldest ever goal scorer in the tournament at 32-years-old.

Captain Álvaro Morata and Fabián Ruiz also scored as Spain cruised in the first half, but were frustrated in a largely uneventful second period.

It is the latest in a string of age-related records broken by Yamal and more could follow at Euro 2024 in Germany.

A goal at any stage of the finals would see him surpass Johan Vonlanthen as the competition’s youngest ever scorer.

Switzerland‘s Vonlanthen was 18 years and 141 days old when he netted at Euro 2004, just four days after England’s Wayne Rooney had briefly become the youngest scorer ever in the European Championship.

Meanwhile, Bellingham is the youngest player to have ever played a knockout game at 18 years and four days, slightly younger than Spain’s Pedri and Germany‘s Jamal Musiala were at the same tournament, Euro 2020.

Portugal‘s Renato Sanches is the youngest player to have played in the final at 18 years and 328 days old — Yamal will turn 17 the day before the final in Berlin.

Barcelona winger Yamal is already the youngest player to start and score in LaLiga, while he also became the youngest player to appear in a Champions League knockout game earlier this year against Napoli.

Despite his age, he is a regular for club and country. He made 50 appearances for Barça in all competitions in the 2023-2024 season, scoring seven goals and setting up 10 more.

He made his senior debut for Spain last September, becoming the youngest player to play and score for La Roja in a win against Georgia, and earned his eighth cap for his country in Saturday’s game against Croatia.

Gavi Becomes One of the Youngest Goal Scorers in FIFA World Cup History

Gavi has kicked his way in to the World Cup history books…

The 18-year-old Spanish midfielder has become the third-youngest goal scorer in FIFA World Cup history and youngest since Brazil legend Pele in 1958 with his 74th-minute strike in a 7-0 win against Costa Rica on Wednesday.

GaviWhen he stepped on the field to start the game, the Barcelona prodigy also became the youngest player (18 years, 110 days) to appear for Spain in a major international tournament (World Cup or European Championship).

“I never dreamed to be here at this age,” Gavi said through an interpreter. “I’m so happy to be here. This is only one step. I need to keep going.”

Pele was aged 17 years, 249 days when he scored in Brazil’s 1958 World Cup final win over Sweden. He holds the record for the youngest to score in a World Cup when scoring 10 days earlier in the quarterfinals.

Mexico‘s Manuel Rosas is the second-youngest scorer, aged 18 years and 93 days when finding the net in the inaugural 1930 tournament.

Spain led 4-0 when a driving run from Alejandro Balde pierced the Costa Rica defense and after goalkeeper Keylor Navas’ partial clearance, Alvaro Morata found Gavi on a late-arriving run.

The teenager struck it with the outside of his right boot and it deflected in off the right post in what was one of the most impressive displays of skill in the tournament so far.

His overall contribution earned him FIFA‘s player of the match award.

“It was a great game. We started from the first minute to win this game and I’m really happy,” Gavi said. “Now I’m waiting for the next one. I’m really happy to win MVP but today we all did a really great game and I’m really happy for all of them.

“I know I’m the youngest in the team and I respect everyone, but on the field it’s different and I bring out my best. I’m proud to be in that podium.”

It was a historically dominant win for Spain, who didn’t allow a single shot and recorded the most passes (1,043) and highest possession percentage (81.3) in a World Cup match since at least 1966.

Spain’s victory was the most lopsided win at a World Cup since Portugal beat North Korea 7-0 in 2010.

Alexia Putellas Wins Ballon d’Or Feminin for Second Consecutive Year

Alexia Putellas has earned a place in soccer history…

The 28-year-old Spanish professional footballer and Barcelona midfielder has won the Ballon d’Or Feminin for the second consecutive year, becoming the first woman to win the award twice since it launched in 2018.

Alexia PutellasPutellas was named the best women’s player in the world at the Monday gala in Paris despite being sidelined since June with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. 

She finished ahead of Arsenal‘s Beth Mead and Chelsea‘s Sam Kerr, who were second and third, respectively.

“Without my teammates this would not have been possible,” Putellas said after receiving the award. “I want to thank the staff and the coach and everyone involved at Barcelona.

“I’m very happy to be back here and pleased because a year ago I was able to win this prize and it pushed me to want to be even better.”

Prior to her injury in the summer, Putellas captained Barcelona to a third successive Primera Division title. The Catalan side made history by winning all 30 of their league games throughout the 2021-22 campaign.

She also led Barcelona to success in the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa de la Reina to complete a domestic treble, although they came up short in the Champions League.

Putellas’ strike in the final was not enough to stop French side Lyon from beating Barcelona 3-1 in Turin.

However, after scoring 11 goals in the Champions League, more than any other player in the competition, Putellas was later named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year ahead of Mead and Lena Oberdorf.

In addition to those 11 goals in Europe, she scored 18 league goals from midfield, four in the Copa de la Reina and one in the Super Cup.

Putellas had hoped success would follow for Spain in the summer, but she tore her left ACL in training with the national team ahead of the European Championship in England.

She has not played since and is expected to remain out of action for several more months.

Last year, Putellas became the first Spanish winner of a Ballon d’Or since Luis Suarez in 1960. She was also named the Best FIFA Women’s Player.

The Ballon d’Or Feminin was launched in 2018 when it was won by Lyon’s Ada HegerbergMegan Rapinoe won it the following year before it was suspended in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Sergio Ramos Becomes Most Capped European Player Ever

There’s a new feather in Sergio Ramos’ cap(ped)…

The 34-year-old Spanish soccer player has become the most capped male European footballer ever, making his 177th appearance for Spain in their UEFA Nations League 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Saturday.

Sergio Ramos

But the milestone day almost turned into a nightmare as Ramos squandered two penalties in the stalemate, after not having not missed in his previous 24 attempts for either Spain or Real Madrid.

The defender — who captains both club and country — has now played one international game more than the previous record holder, former Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who retired from international duty in

Ramos is now targeting the world record held by Egypt‘s Ahmed Hassan, who played 184 games for his country between 1995 and 2012. The defender could reach that mark at next summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, if he features in all of Spain’s matches before then.

But Spain coach Luis Enrique said Ramos’s twin spot-kick misses wouldn’t affect his captain.

“Sergio’s numbers when it comes to taking penalties are in the reach of few players. If we had got a third penalty or a fourth one he would have taken them as well,” he said. “He had scored his last 25, but football has moments like this.”

The number one spot-kick taker for Real Madrid and Spain, despite being a defender, Ramos has turned penalty taking into an art in the last two years, with his last miss coming when he hit the crossbar in Madrid’s 3-2 defeat by Sevilla FC in May 2018.

He has confessed to relishing the high-stakes situation of a penalty, scoring a number of crucial spot-kicks in Real’s run to the La Liga title last season as well as netting from the spot in last month’s 3-1 win at Barcelona.

But he finally met his match in Swiss keeper Yann Sommer, who guessed the right way to parry Ramos’ first penalty early in the second half and then refused to be fooled by the Spaniard’s ‘Panenka‘ routine which has worked so well for him in the past.

“It’s a real shame that Ramos missed the penalties because he’s usually so good,” added Spain forward Dani Olmo.

“But he’s very strong mentally and I’m sure that the next time he takes a penalty he’ll score.”

Saturday’s start further entrenches a remarkable international career that began when he made his Spain debut in March 2005, coming on for Carles Puyol at half time in a 3-0 friendly win over China.

He initially featured as a right back — including at Euro 2008, Spain’s first tournament win in 44 years, and in the country’s only World Cup winning side in 2010 — before switching to centerback for their defense of the European Championship title in 2012.

Despite turning 35 next March, he has expressed a desire to feature not just at the Euros in June, but also the Tokyo Olympics, describing the possibility as “a nice idea, an event no-one would say no to.”

Villa Moving from Barcelona to Atletico Madrid

David Villa is switching teams…

The 31-year-old Spanish international soccer star will be leaving Futbol Club Barcelona to play for Atletico Madrid.

David Villa

It’s all part of a deal potentially worth $6.55 million, according to Barça officials.

Copa del Rey winner Atletico will pay the defending La Liga champion 2.1 million euros this season, with the promise of another 2.1 million if Villa continues to play in 2014-2015, Barcelona said in a statement.

Atletico will have to hand over an additional 1 million euros if Villa remains with the club into the 2015-2016 season.

Barcelona also retains a claim to 50 percent of any future transfer fee for Villa.

With 56 goals in 92 appearances, Villa is Spain’s leading scorer in international play, despite his missing the 2012 European Championship due to an injury.

He was an integral part of the Spanish squad that won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

Villa joined Barça in 2010 and kicked 48 goals in 119 official matches with the club, but he had a hard time getting back into the starting lineup after the broken leg he suffered in 2011 kept him off the pitch for months.

Barcelona’s recent signing of Brazilian sensation Neymar left Villa’s future with the red-and-blue even cloudier.

Premier League clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United were said to be interested in Villa, but Atletico – anxious to replace departed striker Radamel Falcao – beat the English sides to the negotiating table.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are to meet next month in the Spanish Supercup.

Iniesta Named Euro Cup 2012 MVP…

Andres Iniesta is simply the best… And, he’s got the medal to prove it.

The 28-year-old Spanish futbolista has been honored as best player of the European Championship—the Euro Cup 2012—after helping Spain become the first nation to successfully defend the continental crown.

Andres Iniesta

Iniesta started all six of Spain’s matches, including Sunday’s 4-0 victory over Italy in the championship game at the Olympic Stadium in which he recorded an assist.

“Iniesta deserved it. He symbolized the tournament — the creative, incisive runner, with and without the ball,” says Union of European Football Association (UEFA) technical director Andy Roxbuirgh. “We felt that he epitomized a lot of what we saw.”

Roxbuirgh says UEFA’s panel also considered Spain midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso and Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo for the award.