England defeat Venezuela to claim U20 World Cup title in Korea

June 12 – England won their first FIFA world title for 51 years in Suwon, South Korea after their U20s overcame Venezuela in the final 1-0. Venezuela, in their first ever FIFA World Cup final, had a 75th minute penalty saved in the second half that would have levelled the game.

In an entertaining game that saw both sides hit the post, Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the decisive goal in the 34th minute after winning the ball in the air and scoring left footed with his second attempt.

It was the drama of the penalty save that ultimately decided the match. Adalberto Penaranda was brought down in the penalty area by Kyle Walker-Peters and the referee pointed to the spot but then referred the incident to the video referee. The video referee rule the decision was correct after judging that there had been a slight touch on Penaranda.

Penaranda stepped up but so did England keeper Freddie Woodman who diving to his right saved with his left hand.

Venezuela’s players were distraught at the final whistle as England’s were jubilant. Both teams had overcome higher fancied opposition in the semi-finals respectively in South American champions Uruguay and European champions Italy. Italy won the third paced play-off 4-1 on penalties.

A promising future?

The U20 World Cup has been the breeding ground for many of the world’s best players and the win will provide hope for the future of England’s forever failing senior team. The debate over the development of youth players in England has been around their lack of opportunity when it comes to getting into Premier League first teams.

While they can’t make the top club teams clearly the win in Korea shows the system isn’t completely broken as many have suggested, and that England does have the talent to compete at the highest world level.

England’s team in 2013 when they played in the finals featured Ross Barkley, John Stones, Harry Kane and Eric Dier. While that team failed to win a game and finished bottom of their group those players are the among the top stars of the current Premier League. The current crop of young players have made a total of just 72 Premier League appearances to date.

Six of the squad that won in South Korea on Sunday were part of England’s Under-17 European success in 2014. Woodman, Jonjoe Kenny, Dominic Solanke and captain Lewis Cook all started in Sunday’s final, while Dael Fry and Adam Armstrong were on the bench.

England forward Dominic Solanke, due to join Liverpool from Chelsea, was awarded the Golden Ball given to the player of the tournament. Previous winners include Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Luis Figo, Paul Pogba and Sergio Aguero.

The full list of individual award winners are:

Golden Ball – Dominic Solanke – England

Silver Ball –  Federico Valverde – Uruguay

Bronze Ball – Yangel Herrera – Venezuela

Golden Boot – Riccardo Orsolini – Italy

Silver Boot – Johsua Sargent – USA

Bronze Boot – John-Kevin Augustin – France

Golden Glove – Freddie Woodman – England

Praise for South Korea

While FIFA president Gianni Infantino was on hand to give out the awards, AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa congratulated the South Koreans on their organisation of the tournament.

“Korea Republic’s success hosting of the FIFA U-20 World Cup is a success for all of Asia, and it proves that Asia deserves the football family’s trust when it comes to hosting major football events, something which reflects Asia true position on world football’s map,” said Salman.

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