France tops Uruguay in penalty kicks to win U20 World Cup

France won the Under-20 World Cup for the first time after drawing with Uruguay 0-0 after extra time and winning the penalty shootout 4-1 on Saturday.

1st time win for French soccer team

France's men's soccer team celebrates their Under-20 World Cup final victory against Uruguay on Saturday. (Osman Orsal/Reuters)

France won the Under-20 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 Valazquez and Giorgian De Arrascatea — 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.

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.

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

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

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

"I didn't hesitate about the players at all," France coach Pierre Mankowski said about the slow start. "The first round of matches is always difficult ... it was a killer group."

Pogba, who was voted best player of the tournament by FIFA, kept the balance in the team by leading the midfield, while strikers Yaya Sanogo, Florian Thauvin and Jean-Christophe Bahebeck shared nine goals between them to make France the second-highest scoring team of the tournament with 15 goals in seven matches, one short of Ghana, which beat Iraq 3-0 earlier Saturday to finish third.

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

"There was hardly any difference between both teams today," coach Juan Verzeri said. "Small details were always going to decide the final. I am proud of what we've achieved."

It beat Spain in extra time in the quarterfinals 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 Lopez, who had four more shots on goal.

After the match, Uruguay's Guillermo De Amores was named best goalkeeper of the tournament by FIFA, while Ghana's Ebenezer Assifuah won the Golden Boot for being the top goal-scorer with six.