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Tue. 30th June:
Suker's too sweet for Stelea.
After sending the goalkeeper the wrong way on the first penalty, in the 45th minute, Suker had to take it again because Boban entered the area. Suker slotted the ball in the same place, Stelea guessed right eventually but was beaten by his own hesitation to commit to the dive.
In the first half, Romania seemed content to hold the ball in their own half and then thump up the long ball. The strategy would have to change. (Half-time: 0-1).
The Romanians still looked too passive in the second half, and the Croats should have punished them for the laziness. The Croats seemed happy enough -- a meeting with Germany in Lyon on July 4th.
The Romanian coach won't become a two-star general.
The penalty shoot-out started early in Saint Etienne.
In only the sixth minute David Seaman received a yellow card for grabbing Simeone's leg. Penalty converted by who else but Batistuta.
Four minutes later, Michael Owen showed that he knows all about diving too; running full gas between two Argentine defenders, and oops.... floored in the area. Penalty number two of the match to Alan Shearer.
Michael Owen, in true world class, beat Chamot and Ayala -- two of the best defenders in the world -- and then turned the shot past Roa, in the sixteenth minute, to put England ahead.
Le Saux on the left wing hurdles tackles well; no silly diving for free-kicks and yellow cards here.
Scholes runs onto a Shearer header, six minutes from half-time, only to slip the ball wide.
Ortega and Batistuta tried to short pass through the England defence to no avail, until the end of the first half. Sol Campbell and Tony Adams get in a mix-up on the edge of the area; free kick to Argentina. Veron slides the ball to Zanetti who has slipped off the edge off the wall to score past a helpless Seaman. (Half-time: 2-2)
Catastrophe at the start of the second half. Simeone is on top of David Beckham and gets a yellow card, but Spice Boy Beckham flicks out his leg while lying on his stomach and gets sent off.
A Shearer free-kick is pushed away, while a Le Saux mistake at the other end almost costs England dearly with Lopez and Ortega applying the pressure.
Another Argentine attack, and Shearer is back to clear away from Vivas and the open goal.
England are barely coping, Gary Neville throws in right to the six-yard box, but it is collected by Roa.
Then Sol Campbell runs over to the bench after he believes that he has headed in from a corner. He did, but Shearer's elbow on the goalkeeper rules the goal a void.
Batistuta is out for Crespo, and Lopez replaced by Gallardo. Glenn Hoddle replies by bringing on Gareth Southgate for Le Saux, and Paul Merson for Scholes.
Mick Jagger does one of his best numbers as England go into extra-time. He is there with the fans on the terraces.
Darren Anderton is the last to go off; making way for David Batty. The tense moments are at the door, and English fans try to keep the spirits high in the team. Ince is up and strikes venomnessly from the edge of the area.
The second period of extra-time. Michael Owen goes down to a Vivas challenge, and is clipped by the Argentine's stud. England are not down to nine men for long. The young lad has courage too.
England are totally in God's hands. Another Argentine shot goes over the bar and Roa, at the other end, has a look of horror on his face.
Gallardo tries to do a Maradonna run, goes down and the referee ignores it. Two minutes to go.
Tony Adams heads wide at the other end. England are still in the game -- unbelievable.
(Final Score: 2-2 aet)
England lose on penalties but they can hold their heads up high.
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