Teenage Barcelona sensation Lamine Yamal helps fire Spain to victory in Cyprus

By Sports Desk November 16, 2023

Sixteen-year-old Lamine Yamal was on target as Spain moved two points clear at the top of their European Championship qualifying group with a 3-1 victory over Cyprus.

Barcelona’s Yamal was one of three scorers for the visitors in the first half-hour in Limassol, with Mikel Oyarzabal and Joselu also on target.

Spain won the reverse fixture 6-0 but, although Cyprus remain without a point in Group A, they did score the only goal of the second half through Kostas Pileas in the 75th minute.

With Scotland only drawing against Georgia, Spain can clinch top spot in the group by beating the same opponents on Sunday.

Spain boss Luis de la Fuente gave another start to Yamal while Bayer Leverkusen’s Alejandro Grimaldo made his debut and Jesus Navas captained the side to mark his 50th cap.

Gavi came close to an opener in the second minute but the visitors were ahead less than five minutes in, with the ball falling to Yamal after good work from Joselu, and the teenager showing good skill before finding the bottom corner.

It was a second goal for the young Barcelona star, who also scored against Georgia earlier in the group stage.

Spain doubled their advantage in the 22nd minute, with Grimaldo playing in Oyarzabal, who finished coolly past the keeper. The flag was raised but a VAR check showed the forward had stayed onside and the goal was given.

Cyprus had a let-off when Martin Zubimendi hit a post but Spain only had to wait a couple more minutes for the third to arrive, this time Oyarzabal crossing for Joselu.

The visitors were dealt a costly blow five minutes before the break, though, when Real Sociedad’s Oyarzabal pulled up with an apparent calf injury and 23-year-old Rodrigo Riquelme came on for his debut.

David Raya in the Spain goal had had very little to do, and he dealt comfortably with a long-range effort from Grigoris Kastanos after a moment of concern.

Both teams made substitutions for the second half, with Aleix Garcia and David Garcia replacing Robin Le Normand and Mikel Merino for Spain, while Cyprus made three changes.

The two managers continued to shuffle their packs and there was little in the way of rhythm or chances until Cyprus scored just their third goal of the group stage.

Kastanos stole the ball and played a pinpoint pass behind the Spain defence for Pileas, who defeated Raya to give the fans in Limassol something to cheer.

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