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Spain's midfielder Nico Williams (right) celebrates scoring his team's third goal with his teammate Lamine Yamal during the Uefa Euro 2024 round of 16 football match at the Cologne Stadium in Cologne on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Cologne: Thanks to his tender age and illustrious club, Spain and Barcelona’s teenage winger Lamine Yamal has caught the eye at Euro 2024 but on the opposite flank, Nico Williams is proving every bit as devastating.

The 21-year-old Athletic Bilbao winger has emerged as a key player for La Roja and scored a stunning goal in the 4-1 last 16 rout of Georgia on Sunday which set Spain up with a quarter-final heavyweight clash against hosts Germany.

Newspaper Marca described Yamal and Williams as “two Ferraris” on the wings and in bright Spanish red they tore strips out of Willy Sagnol’s Euros debutants to reach the quarter-finals.

“They are two very important pieces of the puzzle for us — they infect us with that youth and innocence, that’s often so important,” said midfielder Rodri, whom Williams set up for Spain’s equaliser after Georgia took a shock lead.

Born five years and a day before Yamal, whom he is both a friend and mentor to within the Spain camp, Williams may well get a transfer to a more high profile side this summer after his thrilling performances in Germany.

He has been on Barcelona’s radar for some time and if the Catalans can make some progress financially in the coming weeks they may move for the winger to recreate Luis de la Fuente’s swashbuckling Spain attack.

The joint-record three time winners are eyeing a fourth Euros triumph with Williams and Yamal’s devastating pace and skill the cornerstone of their success thus far.

Williams is maturing rapidly and he said his finest Spain performance to date was in the 1-0 group stage win over Italy, but now Georgia is a new contender.

The Athletic winger shredded Italy’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo repeatedly on a night where Spain could have won by far more, an early indication of the Nations League winners’ strength.

While Georgia were on paper weaker opponents, the surprise package of the Euros had upset Portugal in their previous outing and kept a clean sheet, with Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili repelling anything that came his way.

However even he could not keep out Williams’ brilliant strike to put Spain 3-1 up in Cologne, with the forward leaving a defender for dead and then rifling into the roof of the net.

Having led Georgia’s defence on a merry jig, Williams and Yamal performed a celebratory dance.

‘Going to be annoying’

“Nico Williams is going to be a little annoying after his match,” joked Yamal.

“I told him not to start with it because I will score in the next game.”

Watching on from the stands was Williams’ older brother and Athletic teammate, Inaki, a Ghana international, who looked after him as a child when their father was working in England and their mother was doing multiple jobs in Spain.

“It’s incredible that you are my brother,” wrote Inaki on social media platform X after the game.

“I was so happy after scoring the goal, especially for my parents, my friends and my brother who were in the stands,” explained Williams.

After the game, Williams and Yamal were seen playing a game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ in a tussle for a well-deserved post match drink.

“He didn’t want to give me the bottle of water and we always play a game of chance,” explained Williams.

“This week he’ll have to put up with me because he didn’t score — hopefully in the next game he can shut me up.

“We always give each other challenges and we work well together.”

Facing Germany in the last eight is arguably the biggest match of the duo’s careers but with no speed limits on the Autobahn, Spain’s Ferraris are not slowing down.