4,950 minutes of football. 140 goals. 52 matches. 24 teams. Two finalists. One champion.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 ended in scintillating style in Suwon as England won their first ever title at this level. Fittingly capping off a tournament graced by dazzling moments, both individually and collectively, the Young Lions and Venezuela put on a final befitting a fine three weeks of action.
FIFA.com looks back across the 21st edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Heading into Korea Republic 2017, England were not widely considered as favourites but, having topped Group A, they grew into the tournament through a fast-flowing midfield - with their attack spear-headed by adidas Golden Ball winner Dominic Solanke - to seem the complete outfit. With adidas Golden Glove winner Freddie Woodman anchoring proceedings, they proved worthy winners thanks to their combination of defensive solidity and enthralling talent when going forward.
Korea Republic kicked the tournament off with a bang, seeing a sea of red erupting in the Jeonju stands as the Taeguk Warriors surged to a 3-0 win over Guinea on day one. The home side’s poster-boy, Lee Seungwoo, shone before helping them to their tournament highlight – a 2-1 win over Argentina – featuring a thrilling goal by the Barcelona starlet. While they could not match their best-ever performance of reaching the quarter-finals from four years ago, being eliminated by Portugal in the last 16, they left an explosive mark on the tournament’s early stages.
Venezuela were rightful finalists thanks to their impressive record in front of goal, sinking 14 in seven games, with nine different names on the scoresheet. Undoubtedly, though, Zambia were one of the neutrals’ favourites, with their uninhibited attacking approach bringing goals at both ends. An incredible 22 strikes across five games were rattled in during the African champions’ matches in Korea Republic, with the Young *Chipolopolo *scoring 12 of them.
Last-minute goals were in plentiful supply across the tournament. No less than 24 of the tournament’s 140 goals were sunk in the final ten minutes. None were more jaw-dropping, though, than Samuel Sosa’s last-second free-kick to send Venezuela’s semi-final with Uruguay into extra-time. Seven of the 16 knockout games could not be decided in 90 minutes, with three going to penalties – all of which featured Uruguay, who won just one.
The records and numbers
The top three sides in England, Venezuela and Italy all went home celebrating their best performances at this level, with La Vinotinto registering their finest ever showing on the global stage.
Having reached the last eight, Zambia too can reflect proudly on being their nation’s top U-20 generation, while Guinea and debutants Vietnam can both return with first ever points and goals. Fellow first-timers Vanuatu achieved the latter but, while points eluded them, 3-2 defeats to Mexico and Germany can still be cherished as proud moments for the islanders.
On the individual front, Venezuela goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez claimed an exceptional spot in the history books as he became the first stopper to score in the competition – converting a penalty against Vanuatu. A special mention should go to USA’s Josh Sargent, who hit four goals to equal the Stars and Stripes’ U-20 scoring record while also becoming their youngest-ever scorer in the competition, aged just 17. Myer Bevan’s sensational strike for New Zealand against Honduras after 45 seconds, making it the tournament’s sixth-fastest ever, also deserves a tip of the cap.
Cheonan, Daejeon, Incheon, Jeju, Jeonju, Suwon
adidas Golden Ball: Dominic Solanke (England)
adidas Golden Boot: Riccardo Orsolini (Italy, five goals)
adidas Golden Glove: Freddie Woodman (England)
Fair Play Award: Mexico