Despite never being outplayed, outfought, or outsung, England was knocked out of the 1998 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals. Just like Euro 96 and Italia 90, the tyranny of penalties has brought England players down again, repeating itself in the cruelest way possible. So it seems every time England vs Argentina play each other in a major tournament, there’s an unforgettable story.
However, those who missed last night should not be criticized. On the contrary, David Batty, whose fateful final shot was saved, played a crucial role in stiffening England’s resistance in extra time, and Paul Ince was a king among lions.
Paul Ince and David Batty are two of the most honest players you will find in England vs Argentina matches. They are hard-working midfielders who allow flair players time, space, and possession.
When the England football team wins or loses, they do it together. This nerve-shredding encounter showed them to be a band of brothers. Alan Shearer and Michael Owen, who scored, provided 120 minutes of English football excellence for World Cup 1998.
It’s difficult to say whether England’s players sympathized with David Beckham. Nevertheless, Glenn Hoddle’s players held one of the favorites for the tournament remarkably well after Beckham was sent off for kicking Argentine captain, Diego Simeone, early in the second half for a silly kick.
However, Beckham’s expulsion would have particularly devastating consequences in the end. David Beckham, one of the tournament’s best dead ballplayers, would have been among the five to address England’s penalties. He would have replaced Ince, who did not take one at Euro 96, or Batty, who is not well known for taking penalties.
Despite Alan Shearer, Paul Merson, and Michael Owen scoring, Argentine team goalkeeper Carlos Roa made two fine saves, earning his team a place in the quarter-finals against Holland in Marseille.
First Goal In England vs Argentina Match
As well as England vs Argentina ending with penalties, the match began with them. After just five minutes of play, Diego Simeone was brought down under a legitimate challenge by England goalkeeper David Seaman, forcing Kim Nielsen to award a penalty. Gabriel Batistuta expertly converted the penalty and then celebrated with a tribute to his newborn son, Joaquin, by mimicking Bebeto’s “baby in the arms” celebrations from World Cup USA 94.
Glenn Hoddle, showing the steel in his bones, refused to accept any idea of Argentine boys supremacy. Paul Scholes’ clever header set off Michael Owen’s penalty as he fell after Roberto Ayala’s faintest of pressure. However, Alan Shearer’s decisive penalty proved too much for Roa to handle.
It took the Argentine players 15 minutes to concede its second goal after not conceding in eight matches. It’s hard to argue with Owen’s strike, a superb run, and finish that encapsulates everything that excites the nation about the British and Liverpool forward.
With Tony Adams and his defenders throwing a white blanket over Argentina, Argentina was rattled. England’s midfielders, led by Paul Ince, harried and chased their celebrated opponents tirelessly for the cause. Sol Campbell flung the ball clear from Claudio Lopez as he sprinted forward. David Beckham also denied Lopez with his mature play.
Just Before Half Time
Then came two disasters that would ultimately cost England dearly. On the cusp of half-time, the ball was almost in the dressing room when Juan Veron’s free-kick found Javier Zanetti. He created a chance with his first touch, which he duly took, the ball racing past David Seaman.
Glenn Hoddle, the manager of England, could not calm down the players’ frustration before the restart. Hoddle had been involved in England vs Argentina 1986 World Cup quarter-final match twelve years earlier and knew one moment could change the football game forever.
David Beckham was dismissed immediately following the halftime break. The former Manchester United midfielder showed his immaturity by flicking a leg at Diego Simeone, who went down as if hit by the 3.40 pm train from Buenos Aires. The England team was facing an uphill battle without Beckham.
Under pressure, England went to a back four with Scholes and Owen providing width in the midfield while Alan Shearer provided a singular focal point. There was a lot of back-and-forth action with Michael Owen and Shearer defending well against Zanetti and Lopez.
The 10 men of England continuously frustrated Argentina. In their usual strategy against depleted opponents, while pushing for the winning goal, they could not stretch Hoddle’s obdurate spirits. However, it was evident that England’s fans were in a defiant mood in the Saint-Étienne stadium in France.
At one point, they even had a moment of hope when the indefatigable Owen scampered through, only to miss the target. Despite Argentina enjoying the majority of possession, they also had their chances, such as when Ariel Ortega wriggled into the box only to run into a man-mountain called Adams, who had a colossal game.
A late goal by England in standard time was even denied. Despite Campbell’s excellent goal, his joy turned into frustration when Shearer was penalized for seemingly impeding Roa.
Tense Extra Time
It took another half-hour of extra time before penalties were taken, with Juan Sebastian Veron and Tony Adams enjoying chances. At the end of regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods, the match was tied 2-2. Now they moved on to penalty kicks to determine what country would move onto the quarter-finals.
The South Americans were confident as they had never lost a penalty shootout in the World Cup. England had demons of being knocked out in the 1990 World Cup. They wanted redemption of being knocked out by Argentina in the 1986 Mexico tournament when Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand Of God’ highly controversial goal was the difference between the teams.
There was also the little issue of the Falklands war between the two countries that always added spice when they played each other.
England vs Argentina Penalty Shootout
In the second round’s last match, this was the first penalty shootout of the tournament. After Berti and Shearer converted the first two penalties, England was given the advantage as David Seaman saved Hernan Crespo’s effort, but Ince’s penalty was saved by Carlos Roa in an almost identical fashion.
The score was 3-3 heading into the last penalty round thanks to goals from Veron, Merson, Gallardo, and Owen. As Ayala converted the penalty for Argentina, all the pressure was on England’s David Batty. At the time that Batty makes contact, Carlos Roa has already determined which way he is diving, which turns out to have been the right choice.
Batty struck the shot with the inside of his foot. He hit the ball with his instep looking for placement rather than driving the ball with his laces. Roa was able to adjust his hands and produce a good save. Argentina won the shoot-out and move to the quarter-final football match against the Netherlands. They were knocked out at this stage of the tournament.
England vs Argentina 1998 Team Details
Argentina: Matias Almeyda, Roberto Ayala, Gabriel Batistuta (Hernan Crespo 68), Jose Chamot, Claudio Lopez (Marelo Gallardo 68), Ariel Ortega, Carlos Roas, Diego Simeone (Sergio Berti 91), Juan Sebastian Veron, Nelson Vivas, Javier Zanetti.
England: Tony Adams, Darren Anderton (David Batty 96), David Beckham, Sol Campbell, Paul Ince, Graeme Le Saux (Gareth Southgate 70), Gary Neville, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes (Paul Merson 78), David Seaman, Alan Shearer.
Referee: Kim Milton Nielsen (Denmark)
Stadium: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!