Friday June 7th, 2002
Argentina vs England in Sapporo
This was made out to be the match of the round but after a
disappointing second-half against Sweden, we needed to see a different England if this
game was to live up to expectations.
With Pierluigi Collina in charge, everybody knew that Argentina vs
England was a big game; as England, in red, kicked off from right to left.
Allegiances to Manchester United were forgotten as Juan Sebastian
Verón challenged Paul Scholes hard enough to concede a free-kick.
When Gabriel Batistuta charged into Ashley Cole, in the 13th minute, Collina approached
his assistant referee for confirmation - yes, a yellow card.
The game started so scrappy that the Italian referee hardly had his
whistle out of his mouth.
Although David Beckham earned a couple of free-kicks in dangerous
positions, nothing came of them for England.
Before getting injured and replaced by Trevor Sinclair, Owen
Hargreaves sent Michael Owen down the left.... but Argentina were wise to his pace, after
he scored so exquisitely against them in France, and his run was covered immediately.
With 23 minutes gone, neither side had created any real chances....
until Michael Owen drove a shot onto the post, through the legs of Walter Samuel; with
Pablo Cavallero unsighted and unable to react.
Killy González had to leave the pitch for a while, after David
Beckham's arm accidently caught him in the face and his nose spurted blood.
Two minutes before half-time, Michael Owen slipped around Mauricio Pochettino and dived
over his outstretched leg.
Collina, on the whistle again, awarded England the penalty..... for
David Beckham to slam his country into the lead and be totally forgiven for his
sending-off in France 98.
Half-time: Argentina 0 - England 1
England have gone in front at half-time before and lost a grip on the
match, so euphoria at this stage is always calmed with a healthy dose of trepidation.
At the start of the second-half, Valencia's Pablo Aimar took the place of Veron.
Two minutes after the re-start, Paul Scholes fired a curling shot that
Cavallero could only punch away...... England meant business.
David Beckham still looked strong, ten minutes into the second-half,
as he ran into the left side of the Argentine area and shot with his dodgy foot.
A minute later, Teddy Sheringham replaced the ineffective Emile Heskey and almost
England were now so confident that they played the ball around, Latino
style, and worked it up towards the edge of the area for the experienced Teddy Sheringham
to almost catch Argentina out with a well struck volley.
On the hour, Hernan Crespo was brought on for Batigoalless, who sat down on the bench and
kicked his boots off in disgust.
With twenty minutes to go, Pablo Aimar tried to look for a
penalty..... but Collina is one of the best referees in the world and saw that Nicky Butt
had made contact with the ball first.
Argentina started to pour more pressure on the England goal and
narrowly missed on more than one occasion.
Although Gustavo López, on for Killy González, was looking hungry
England stood fast in the trenches and even General Beckham (expecting a medal from The
Queen) and his Lieutenant, Teddy Sheringham, were back with the troops as they tried to
defend their advantage.......
And of course the National Anthem rang around the ground, followed by
The Argentine threat up front was so strong that Svengali brought on
Southampton's Wayne Bridge for Michael Owen, with ten minutes remaining.
England held out to win the battle but the war is not over yet.
Argentina 0 -
Man of the Match:
Pierluigi Collina - For giving England the dubious penalty and not getting trigger happy
with his yellow cards, even though he was always on the whistle. A passionate game to
referee and only the best in the world could have dealt with it so calmly.
Gabriel Batistuta (13 mins)
Ashley Cole (29 mins)
Emile Heskey (50 mins)
12 Pablo Cavallero; 13 Diego Placente, 4 Mauricio Pochettino, 6 Walter
Samuel; 10 Ariel Ortega, 14 Diego Simeone, 3 Juan Pablo Sorín,
11 Juan Sebastian Verón (16 Pablo Aimar - 46 mins), 8 Javier Zanetti;
9 Gabriel Batistuta (19 Hernan Crespo - 60 mins), 18 Killy González (17 Gustavo
López - 64 mins).
1 David Seaman; 6 Sol Campbell, 3 Ashley Cole, 5 Rio Ferdinand,
2 Danny Mills; 7 David Beckham, 21 Nicky Butt, 18 Owen Hargreaves (4
Trevor Sinclair - 19 mins), 8 Paul Scholes; 11 Emile Heskey (17 Teddy Sheringham
- 56 mins), 10 Michael Owen (14 Wayne Bridge - 80 mins).
Referee: Pierluigi Collina
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