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
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.
-- GOAL -- 0-1
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.
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
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
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 Rule Britannia.
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
Argentina 0 -- England 1