Even after ditching the mask, Mbappé's Euro 2024 comes to a disappointing end with loss to Spain

MUNICH (AP) — Even without the mask, Kylian Mbappé was outclassed by a 16-year-old wonderkid.

Mbappé ditched the vision-restricting mask that he had been wearing since breaking his nose in France’s opening match but Les Bleus fell to a 2-1 loss to Spain in the semifinals on Tuesday as Lamine Yamal became the youngest goalscorer in the history of the European Championship.

Yamal is heading to the Euro 2024 final on Sunday — the day after his 17th birthday — while Mbappé will be on holiday before joining new team Real Madrid.

“I had the aim of being European champion, I had the aim of having a good Euros — I didn’t do one nor the other,” Mbappé said.

“It’s disappointing, we have to go on holiday. I’ll rest well, I think I need that to come back fresh and have a really good pre-season preparation.”

France coach Didier Deschamps had said on Monday that Mbappé would have to wear the mask for “weeks … maybe months” so there was surprise when he took to the field in Munich without the mask that had so annoyed him.

“I was fed up, I couldn’t see well with it,” Mbappé said. “I spoke with the doctor to see and he told me to make the decision like a man and I don’t regret it.”

Euro 2024 had hardly gone to plan for Mbappé and France before Tuesday's match — no French player had scored from open play with their three goals coming from a solitary Mbappé penalty and two own-goals.

Mbappé had a total of 23 attempts at goal in Germany. Only Deco with 24 at Euro 2004 had more non-penalty shots without scoring.

The 25-year-old Mbappé had described the mask-wearing experience as “an absolute horror” and removing it seemed to have an immediate effect as he set up France’s ninth-minute opener with a pinpoint cross to the back post for Randal Kolo Muani’s headed goal.

The France superstar should have scored and sent the match into extra time when he was released on the left by Bradley Barcola with four minutes remaining.

Mbappé seemed certain to score – and in front of France’s fans – when he raced into the area and cut inside past Spain defender Dani Vivian but he uncharacteristically blazed his shot over the bar.

“I think I had to score, or at least hit the target,” he said. “It went over and that’s the harsh reality of football.”

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

07/09/2024 23:19 -0400

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