After a brave, exciting and captivating display of football by England in this World Cup Second Round game, they again fell to what now must be the 'dreaded' penalties. In the last decade England have now three times fallen at the last hurdle to penalties, in major competitions. In World Cup '90 they lost on spot-kicks to Germany in the semi-finals, in Euro '96 they again lost to the Germans in the semi-finals, and penalties destroyed England's chance of moving to the World Cup quarter-finals in France '98. This time though attention will probably not focus on Ince and Batty, who had their penalties saved, but on David Beckham who was sent off after 46 minutes for an outrageous kick at Simone. Glenn Hoddle said that if England had played at full strength for the 90 minutes, England would have won the tie. We will never know what was to be.
England started the game with the same eleven players that ended the game against Colombia. Gary Neville kept a now fit Gareth Southgate on the bench. Within five minutes from the kick-off England were a goal down after Seaman was adjudged to have brought down Simeone in the area, and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. There was no malice from Seaman as he went to collect the ball from the Argentine. Batistuta, now the joint leading goalscorer of the World Cup, put away the penalty, and so early in the game, England found themselves trailing to the twice World Champions.
The game was tied after ten minutes when Owen went down in the Argentinian area. Shearer converted for England, the ball smashing into the top left corner of the net.
Then England's youngest player showed why he was selected for the team as he created and scored a beautiful goal, to put his side ahead after sixteen minutes. Beckham played the ball to Owen who sprinted towards Argentina's goal. He got passed Chamot and them pushed the ball to the left of Ayala and hit the ball passed Roa and into the net. It was a sweet goal.
Just one minute later Paul Ince nearly put England further ahead, but his 35-yard volley scraped over the crossbar.
Danger lurked for England in the 28th minute when Argentina were given a free-kick from 30-yards, but Batistuta's kick went into Seaman's wall.
Both Owen and Le Saux had breaks but they were stopped by Argentina. Then with just one minute of the first half remaining Campbell fouled Lopez. The resulting free-kick ended in an equaliser. Veron took the kick and played the ball to Zanetti who scored after a beautiful move. The teams went into the break on level pegging.
No changes were made by either team for the start of the second period, but within one minute England were reduced to ten men. Simeone went into Beckham, and while the Manchester United player was on the ground he kicked the Argentine under the nose of the referee. Many referees would only have given a yellow card but Nielson had no hesitation in pulling out the red card. Beckham paid the ultimate price for his outburst.
Now with ten men, England regrouped as they faced a tough task of playing for 44 minutes with a disadvantage against Argentina. They came through the test with flying colours.
In a surprising move after 68 minutes, Argentina took off Batistuta and Lopez, sending on Crespo and Gallardo in their place. A puzzling decision.
With less than 15 minutes to go, Argentina felt that they should have been awarded a penalty as it seemed that Adams had handled the ball, but play continued. Then Campbell, with nine minutes left on the clock, thought he had headed England into the quarter-finals. His goal was disallowed after Shearer was seen to elbow Roa. The heat was immediately turned on England's goal as Veron broke away, but a good interception by Anderton stops the Argentine.
With neither team breaking the deadlock, extra time was required with the golden goal rule. One minute into extra time England had a appeals for a penalty turned down after a hand-ball by
Ince almost became England's hero but the ball just went wide of the goal. So near, yet so far. In the dying moments of the first half of extra time Owen broke free but his shot went over the bar.
Both teams had fleeting chances in the second period but when the whistle was blown at the end of extra time the score was 2-2.
The only way to settle this game was by resorting to penalties:
1st penalty: Berti scored - Argentina 1-0
2nd penalty: Shearer scored - 1-1
3rd penalty: Crespo missed - 1-1
4th penalty: Ince missed - 1-1
5th penalty: Veron scored - Argentina 2-1
6th penalty: Merson scored - 2-2
7th penalty: Gallardo scored - Argentina 3-2
8th penalty: Owen scored - 3-3
9th penalty: Ayala scored - Argentina 4-3
10th penalty: Batty missed - Argentina win 4-3.
After battling for 75 minutes with ten men against a team which are one of the favourites to win the champinship, this was a cruel way for England to leave the competition after playing so well. England have gained admirers from all around the world with their play during this World Cup but this will probably be little consolation at the moment after the trophy they wanted so much eluded them again. They can now build on the ability that is in the squad and hopefully can go on to win the European Championship in 2000.
Roa, Ayala, Chamot, Vivas, Zanetti, Almeyda, Simeone (Berti 91 mins), Ortega, Veron, Lopez (Gallardo 69 mins), Batistuta (Crespo 69 mins).
Subs Not Used: Burgos, Cavallero, Pineda, Paz, Astrada, Balba, Degado, Sensini.
Seaman #1, Campbell #2, Le Saux #3 (Southgate 71 mins - #6), Adams #5, G Neville #12, Ince #4, Beckham #7, Anderton #14 (Batty 97 mins - #8), Scholes #16 (Merson 79 mins - #15), Shearer #9, Owen #20.
Subs Not Used: Flowers #22, Martyn #13, Keown #18, Lee #17, Sheringham #10, Merson #15, L Ferdinand #19, McManaman #11.
Argentina Scorers: Batistuta (6 mins), Zanetti (45 mins)
England Scorers: Shearer (10 mins), Owen (16 mins)
England Dismissal: Beckham (46 mins)
Argentina Cautions: Veron, Simeone, Almeyda, Roa
England Cautions: Seaman, Ince
Referee: K Nielson (Denmark)