After extra time (Argentina win 4-3 on penalties)
World Cup Finals, Last 16 knock out phase
Stage Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint Etienne, 30th June 1998
The game that had everything!
The battle between England and Argentina was an exhilarating and action packed match. It was full of moments of brilliance, drama and controversy.
The game, at the last 16 stage of the finals, was one of the best of the France 1998 World cup.
Argentina looking unstoppable
Argentina were a star studded team and had progressed through the opening phase with ease. They won all three matches in Group H, scoring seven goals without conceding. They were managed by Daniel Passarella and had a squad that was full of South American flair and skill.
Their centre forward, Gabriel Batistuta, had scored four goals in the opening three games including a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Jamaica.
England runners-up to Romania
England had qualified through group G in second place after beating both Tunisia and Colombia 2-0, but losing 2-1 to Romania who went on to top the group.
The England squad was a blend of experienced internationals and promising younger players. The leaders of the group were captain, Alan Shearer and defensive rock Tony Adams.
The most exciting young players England had were Manchester United midfielder, David Beckham and Liverpool’s teenage striker, Michael Owen. Both these players had scored their first World cup goal during the group stage and were playing with great confidence.
Chance for Hoddle to get revenge
England were managed by Glenn Hoddle. He had been a great player for Tottenham and was a part of the England World cup squads of 1982 and 1986.
It was in 1986 that England were knocked out of the tournament by Argentina, after Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘hand of god’ goal. This game presented a great opportunity for Hoddle to settle a personal score with Argentina.
Batistuta fires Argentina in front from 12 yards
Both teams started the game with great attacking intent and it was Argentina that struck first.
With just four minutes played, Ortega crossed into the box and the ball was flicked on by Batistuta. Diego Simeone latched on to the loose ball and was brought down by David Seaman.
Even though the Argentine was going away from goal it was a stonewall penalty and Seaman was shown a yellow card by the referee.
Batistuta stepped up and drilled a hard low shot to the left of goal. David Seaman guessed right and was very unlucky not to stop the ball as it came off his hand and into the side of the net.
It was Batistuta’s fifth goal of the tournament and his ninth in World cup finals.
Shearer holds his nerve
It wasn’t long before England got back on level terms. They reacted positively to conceding the penalty and went straight back on the front foot.
Graeme Le Saux lifted the ball to Scholes just past the half way line. He headed the ball over the Argentina midfield for Michael Owen to run at the defence. This he duly did and charged into the penalty area before being brushed by a defender and going to ground.
It was far from a clear foul but the referee blew his whistle and England had the chance to equalise almost immediately. Alan Shearer placed the ball on the penalty spot after much arguing, and pushing and shoving from both sets of players.
He hit a fantastic penalty high to the keeper’s right and into the top corner. The game was barely ten minutes old and already each team had been awarded, and converted, a penalty.
Michael Owen introduces himself to the world – Read more