France Under-20s celebrate World Cup win

Keeper Alphonse Areola pulls off two saves in penalty shoot-out against Uruguay as French win tournament for first time.

France win cup
France's Under-20 goalkeeper Areola saves a penalty kick by Uruguay's Velazquez [AFP]

France are celebrating their first Under-20 FIFA World Cup win after a penalty shootout 4-1 in the final in Istanbul.

France goalkeeper Alphonse Areola saved Uruguay’s first two penalties, from Emiliano Valazquez and Giorgian De Arrascatea, before Dimitri Foul-keyeh converted the fourth for his French side giving the Europeans an unassailable lead.

The French celebrated for several 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 realise what we’ve done tonight.”

France are the sixth European champions in the 36-year history of the event, but only the second in the past 20 years, after Spain’s victory in 1999.


France coach Pierre Mankowski said the win marked a formidable day.

“I have to take my hat off to my players, France is a collective,” Mankowski said.

“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.

The goalkeeper described the win as a great feeling, as well as a relief.

“Saving the first two penalties was massive. It gave us a psychological advance as it took the pressure off from our players,” Areola said. 

‘Killer group’

Uruguay have now suffered a second defeat in a final after losing to Argentina in 1997.

France had a modest start to the tournament with a draw against the United States and a defeat to Spain, but the team improved in the knockout stage.

The French found fluency in its attacking game and eased past host Turkey (4-1) and Uzbekistan (4-0), before edging Ghana 2-1 in the semi-finals.

Mankowski said that he did not  hesitate about the players at all after their slow start.

“The first round of matches is always difficult … it was a killer group,” he said.

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.

Ghana finish third

Uruguay was not regarded as one of the tournament favourites despite defeating 2011 champions Brazil in qualifying.

They beat Spain in extra time in the quarter-finals and was held to 1-1 by unheralded Iraq in the semis before advancing on penalties.

Six players of Verzeri’s squad missed out on a world title for the second time after also losing the Under-17 World Cup final to host Mexico in 2011.

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.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies