1998 FIFA World Cup France™

1998 FIFA World Cup France™

10 June - 12 July

#WorldCupAtHome

#WorldCupAtHome: Argentina frustrate England again

The 1998 FIFA World Cup France™ had its share of thrilling encounters, and this Round-of-16 clash between Argentina and England was definitely one of them. Twelve years after the teams’ epic battle at Mexico 1986, La Albiceleste again thwarted the Three Lions, this time through the hands of their goalkeeper.

The summary

Argentina 2-2 (PEN 4-3) England

30 June 1998 | Saint Etienne, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard

Goalscorers: Argentina: Gabriel Batistuta (7' PEN) Javier Zanetti (45'+2') Penalties: Serbian Berti ( ✅), Hernan Crespo (❌), Juan Veron (✅), Marcelo Gallardo (✅), Roberto Ayala (✅)

England: Alan Shearer (11' PEN) Michael Owen (17') Penalties: Alan Shearer (✅), Paul Ince (❌), Paul Merson (✅), Michael Owen (✅), ✅David Batty (❌)

Line-ups:
Argentina: Carlos Roa; Javier Zanetti, Roberto Ayala, Jose Chamot, Nelso Vivas; Diego Simeone, Matias Almeyda, Juan Sebastian Veron, Ariel Orrega; Claudio Lopez and Gabriel Batistuta. Coach: Daniel Passarella

England: David Seaman; Gary Neville, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Paul Ince; Darren Anderton, Paul Scholes, Graeme Le Saux, David Beckham; Michael Owen and Alan Shearer. Coach: Glenn Hoddle

Referee Kim Milton Nielsen sends off England's David Beckham for kicking out at Diego Simeone at the 1998 World Cup.
© Getty Images

The stakes

As soon as England lost to Romania in their second Group G fixture, there was a very real possibility that their last-16 opponents would be Argentina, who would go on to top Group H with maximum points.

In spite of this, neither side were clear favourites ahead of the clash, which was portrayed in the media as a rematch of the pair’s quarter-final duel at Mexico 1986.

The match

45 unforgettable minutes: The first half was truly pulsating. Argentina started strongly with an early Batistuta penalty, before Owen threatened to steal the show by first winning an equalising spot-kick and then finishing a sublime solo run to make it 2-1. However, after being awarded a free-kick in front of the area just before half-time, the South Americans executed a wonderful set-piece that allowed Zanetti, of all people, to level from inside the box.

From sending-off to disallowed goal: One of the big turning points came two minutes after the restart. Following a foul by Simeone, a prone Beckham raised his foot in retaliation right under the nose of Danish referee Kim Milton, who deemed it a red card. Despite playing the rest of the game with ten men and without one of their key players, England made things difficult for their opponents. Glenn Hoddle’s side even thought they had snatched victory at the death with a Sol Campbell header, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on the keeper. Extra time failed to break the deadlock and so it went to penalties.

Argentina the more accurate: England drew first blood in the shoot-out when Seaman stopped Argentina’s second kick from Crespo. However, Roa then restored parity by saving from Ince to put the pressure back on the English. With the next five kicks successful, Batty had to score, but Roa guessed correctly to deny him and send his side into the last eight.

The star

Although Simeone won the penalty for the game’s opening goal and provoked Beckham for the sending off, Argentina’s standout figure turned out to be Carlos Roa, who saved two of England’s five penalties. The player dubbed Lechuga (Lettuce) for his vegetarianism emerged as the hero despite not being a penalty specialist and being shown a yellow card during the shoot-out.

What they said

"The satisfaction of going down in Argentinian football history made it the most important game of my life. It was my first World Cup, and I’d been in goal for the final nine qualifying games."
Carlos Roa, Argentina goalkeeper

"We practised that set piece for four years. My position, where I scored from, was filled by Ortega, but before the World Cup, Passarella decided it should be me. It worked to perfection – and with my left foot! I couldn't believe it..."
Javier Zanetti, Argentina defender

"What David (Beckham) did was probably not a red card, but it was childish and unnecessary. People will say it's just a mistake, but if you want to win a World Cup, you can't afford mistakes."
Michael Owen, England striker

"It's not a night to make excuses but to be proud of how we played. Beckham's sending-off was costly, but even with ten we defended like lions. It's a bitter pill we have to swallow again."
Glenn Hoddle, England coach

Argentina v England - 1998 FIFA World Cup 2nd Round
© Getty Images

What happened next

In another huge fixture, Argentina went down 2-1 to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. Paradoxically, this showdown also had a sending-off that would prove pivotal – that of Argentina’s Ortega, who got his marching orders three minutes from time for a tackle on the Dutch keeper. Just three minutes later, Dennis Bergkamp scored the winning goal for the Oranje.

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