France won the Under-20 Soccer World Cup for the first time after drawing with Uruguay 0-0 after extra time and winning the penalty shootout 4-1 on Saturday.
France goalkeeper Alphonse Areola saved Uruguay’s first two penalties — from Emiliano Velazquez and Giorgian De Arrascaeta — before Dimitri Foulquier converted the fourth for France, giving the Europeans an insurmountable lead.
The French celebrated for minutes on the field with rhythmic dance moves, singing and waving to fans, before captain Paul Pogba lifted the trophy.
“Incredible, this is the World Cup, the World Cup, the World Cup! It is something extraordinary,” said Pogba, who was voted best player of the tournament by FIFA. “It will need some time to realize what we’ve done tonight.”
In the 36-year history of the event, France is the sixth European champion, but only the second in the past 20 years following Spain’s victory in 1999.
“This is a formidable day,” France coach Pierre Mankowski said. “I have to take my hat off to my players. France is a collective. Paul [Pogba] is important, but it is the group of 21 that won us this title. Solidarity is the biggest quality of this team.”
Areola starred in goal with a couple of excellent saves in regulation before mastering two penalty kicks.
Uruguay suffered their second defeat in a final after losing to Argentina in 1997.
“It’s very tough to talk now,” Uruguay coach Juan Verzeri said. “We knew France is one of the best teams in Europe, they have a lot of international experience. We played very well during the first 90 minutes. We couldn’t score, but we had 20 shots on goal.”
France had a modest start to the tournament with a draw against the US and a defeat to Spain, but the team improved in the knockout stage. France found fluency in their attacking game and eased past hosts Turkey (4-1) and Uzbekistan (4-0), before edging Ghana 2-1 in the semi-finals.
“I didn’t hesitate about the players at all,” Mankowski said. “The first round of matches is always difficult ... it was a killer group.”
France conceded just two goals in the knockout stage and kept a clean sheet in the final, despite missing suspended defender Samuel Umtiti, who was sent off for a second booking against Ghana.
Uruguay were not regarded as one of the tournament favorites, despite defeating 2011 champion Brazil in qualifying.
In Saturday’s final, France dominated ball possession, but Uruguay created more danger, mainly through winger Nicolas Lopez, who had six shots on goal.
After the match, Uruguay’s Guillermo de Amores was named best ’keeper of the tournament by FIFA, while Ghana’s Ebenezer Assifuah won the Golden Boot for being the top goal-scorer, with six.
Ghana beat Iraq 3-0 earlier on Saturday to finish third.