U20 WORLD CUP: Les Champions


France end Turkey on top




France were the victors in the final of the Under-20 World Cup beating a resilient Uruguayan side in a penalty shoot-out, after the teams could not find the net in 120 minutes.

There was also some individual joy for Paul Pogba, Ghana’s star striker Ebenezer Assifuah and Uruguayan goalkeeper Guillermo De Amores, as they each won the Golden Ball (Player of the tournament), Golden Boot (Top scorer) and Golden Glove (Best goalkeeper) awards respectively.

France triumph after shootout drama

The hero of the night was French goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who saved two of Uruguay’s spot-kicks in the shoot-out, while right-back Dimitri Foulquier was the man to score the winner of Les Bleuets. The win saw France claim their first ever Under-20 World Cup trophy.

Both teams started hesitantly, but the lively Nicolas Lopez and Juve midfielder Pogba were the first to test either keeper, though Areola and De Amores made light work of their long-range efforts. While Sebastian Cristforo’s following effort possessed a better threat but his long drive sailed over the crossbar.

Lopez’s next effort proved somewhat more successful in the 20th minute, after pouncing on a loose ball headed back by Mouhamadou Sarr, the Uruguayan forced the PSG keeper into a sharp save with his knee.

The game failed to spark into life as the first-half clock ran down, with both aware of the dangers that an all-out attacking attitude could bring to them. Even so, Uruguay finished the first 45 the better side, with again the dangerous Lopez firing over from a tight angle, before a series of corners had the French defence in chaos, although no goal arrived.

Lopez was at it again after the interval, cutting across the box, he let rip a rasping left-footed drive, but it failed to test Areola, drifting wide of his goal. The Udinese man spurned another chance soon after, slicing wide after an impressive ball from Gino Acevedo.

France began to dominate the possession, but their wayward shooting was all that stood between Uruguay and the lead. Les Bleuets missed a golden chance soon after when substitute Alexy Bosetti volleyed Florian Thauvin’s cross over the ball.

Minutes later, giant striker Felipe Avenatti spurned the greatest chance of the game. Substitute Giorgian De Arrascaeta slipped him in beautifully behind the France defence, but Areola was alert and charged down the tall Uruguayan’s effort.

With the game finally beginning to open up, Jordan Veretout pulled the best save of the night from De Amores, palming away a powerful effort from the edge of the box, before then denying Bosetti from the resulting corner.

Emiliano Velazquez’s wayward cross almost chipped Areola with just three minutes remaining, but eventually the referee’s whistle went and the game headed into extra-time. De Arrascaeta’s quick feet saw him create room to test the keeper, but his effort was tame, though the little playmaker had certainly added some trickery to Uruguay since replacing Diego Laxalt on 71 minutes.

Time went on and both sides failed to provide the spark to avoid a dreaded penalty shoot-out to decide the game. When Velazquez and De Arrascaeta both saw their efforts saved by Areola, Foulquier stepped up to score France’s fourth successive penalty and give Pierre Mankowski’s side their first Under-20 World Cup title.



Click the name above to follow Will on Twitter.