Soccer-Spain coach praises Yamal's Euro debut

Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group B - Spain v Croatia - Berlin Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany - June 15, 2024 Croatia's Josko Gvardiol in action with Spain's Lamine Yamal REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

BERLIN (Reuters) - Spain coach Luis de la Fuente praised Lamine Yamal after his first appearance at a major tournament on Saturday and talked up the teenager's potential to become a great player.

Yamal, at 16 the youngest player to appear at the European Championship, assisted defender Dani Carvajal for the team's third goal and almost got on the scoresheet in the second half, only for Croatia keeper Dominik Livakovic to pull off a superb one-handed save to deny him.

"Yamal is impressing everyone and going up through the levels," De la Fuente said after Spain's 3-0 thrashing of Croatia in the Group B game.

"He has to keep improving every day, and over time he will become a wonderful footballer," the coach added.

At 16 years and 338 days old, Yamal still has plenty to work on if he is to match the likes of player of the match Fabian Ruiz, who created one goal and scored another.

"He (Fabian) is at the top level. Based on what we see from him on a daily basis, he's fantastic. He has brilliant technique," De la Fuente said. "We should recognise the quality that he has. He has real imagination."

Fabian ran the show in midfield, playing in Alvaro Morata for the opening goal and adding a second himself three minutes later.

"It was really important to start with a win. We knew we were up against a really good team with strong individual players," Fabian said.

"I don't know if we're the favourites or not but we will fight until the end to try to get to the final," he added.

(Reporting by Rachel More, editing by Ed Osmond)

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