France were crowned as FIFA U-20 World Cup champions after triumphing over Uruguay with a 4-1 win on penalties after a goalless game.
The hero of the night was Alphonse Areola, who saved two of La Celsete’s spot-kicks, while Dimitri Foulquier was the man to score the winner of Les Bleuets. Victory saw France claim their first ever FIFA U-20 World Cup title.
The game began tentatively, but Nicolas Lopez and Paul Pogba were the first to test either keeper, though Areola and Guillermo De Amores made light work of their efforts from distance. While Sebastian Cristforo’s following effort possessed a little more venom, his long-distance sighter sailed over the bar.
Lopez’s next effort proved somewhat more successful on 20 minutes, however. Pouncing on a loose header back by Mouhamadou Sarr, Uruguay’s top marksman forced the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper into a sharp stop with his knee.
The game failed to spark as the first-half wore on, with both conscious of the costs that a gung-ho attitude could befall them. Even so, Uruguay finished the opening period the better, with Lopez firing over from a tight angle, before a series of corners had the French defence in a muddle, though no breakthrough arrived.
A popped ball offered some light relief after the interval, but Lopez was at it again even after the change. Cutting across the box, he let rip a rasping left-footed drive, but it drifted wide of the top left corner of Areola’s goal. He spurned another chance soon after, slicing wide after an impressive ball form Gino Acevedo.
While France dominated possession, wayward shooting was all that stood between Uruguay and the lead, but Les Bleuets carved out their first chance in some time when Alexy Bosetti volleyed Florian Thauvin’s cross over the ball.
Soon after though Felipe Avenatti had the best 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 opening up Jordan Veretout drew the best save of the night from De Amores, palming away a thunderous effort from the edge of the area, before then denying Bosetti from the resulting corner.
Emiliano Velazquez’s miscued cross almost lobbed Areola with three minutes to go, but the game went to extra-time. Quick feet from De Arrascaeta saw him create room to test the keeper, but it was a tame effort – though the little playmaker had certainly added some invention to proceedings since taking the stage.
Neither side can find the necessary spark to avoid a dramatic penalty shootout to decide the destination of the title though. When Velazquez and De Arrascaeta both saw their efforts saved, Foulquier was on hand to score France’s fourth-successive spot-kick and hand Pierre Mankowski’s side the trophy.