Agony for England Penalty kicks decide dramatic Cup match in Argentina's favor

July 01, 1998|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

PARIS -- Argentina and England played a World Cup match yesterday, which meant that emotions were not in short supply.

It's long been this way between these teams, whether in 1966 when England's coach called the opponents "animals" after a near-brawl of a game, or in 1986 when Diego Maradona's infamous "Hand of God" goal lifted the Argentinians.

These are memories for a lifetime, but they can be painful.

England suffered again yesterday, losing in excruciating fashion penalty kicks after the teams played to a 2-2 tie that extended through 30 minutes of overtime.

Argentina advanced to a quarterfinal match Saturday against the Netherlands. The loser retreats across the English Channel, taking with it a core of unruly fans that has occasionally dampened the entire tournament.

After yesterday's match, fighting broke out in the central square of Saint-Etienne, less than three miles from Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, where a far better altercation had taken place.

Even in this bitterest defeat, however, sealed when David Batty's penalty-kick attempt was punched away by goalkeeper Carlos Roa, the English could take some satisfaction in the courage of their effort.

When midfielder David Beckham was red-carded just two minutes into the second half, with the score 2-2, the English had to play the final 73 minutes a man short.

"We are almost distraught," said England coach Glenn Hoddle. "It's a bitter, bitter pill to take. Even with 10 men, we defended like lions."

They did, blunting dozens of surges from Argentina throughout the second half and the overtimes. But when the match came down to best-of-five penalty kicks, Argentina made four and England three.

By that margin, the newest bit of history between these nations -- countries that were at war over the Falkland Islands in 1982 -- was decided in Argentina's favor.

And what a history it is.

British sailors established the Buenos Aires Football Club in 1865, just two years after the English Football Association was founded.

There are still traces of England's hand in Argentine soccer. Some clubs bear English, not Spanish, names, like Newell's Old Boys and River Plate.

But the nations didn't set off on their real path to yesterday's meeting until 1966, when England, on its way to the Cup championship, won a 1-0 match in which Argentina's captain was sent off by the referee, but refused to leave the field.

He eventually did leave, but only after police were called to the Wembley Stadium turf to restore order, and the match then disintegrated into a series of pushing matches, many of them caused by both teams' inability to understand the German referee.

In the 1986 meeting between the teams, also in the quarterfinals. Maradona guided a ball into the net with his hand in the first half of the match, a blatant infraction missed by the referee.

In the second half, Maradona made a spectacular, twisting run through England's defense to score a second goal in what would eventually be a 2-1 win.

The latest chapter in the dramatic connection between these teams turned on yesterday's foul by Beckham, who retaliated for a hard tackle by kicking Diego Simeone in full view of the referee.

The ensuing red card turned England into a defensive club, blunting an attack that had been incredible at times in the first half, led by 19-year-old Michael Owen.

Owen slipped into the penalty area and drew a foul that led to England's first goal on a penalty kick by captain Alan Shearer. Then he made a spectacular run through half the field to score on his own, with a terrific shot to his left after a sharp fake to his right.

Maybe on another night, the English could have gone to sleep remembering that run.

But Argentina also had two goals at halftime, on a penalty kick by Gabriel Batistuta and a crafty, free-kick play that ended with ,, Javier Zanetti beating David Seaman.

That was the highlight half for England, but the red card ended the reel.

"This is not a night for blaming people," Hoddle said. "It's a night to be proud to be English."

And it was a night to prepare for the trip home.

The hand of Carlos Roa is the latest the English will see in their nightmares.

(Argentina wins on penalty kicks, 4-3)

Argentina 2 0 -- 2

England 2 0 -- 2

World Cup

Quarterfinals

Friday

Italy vs. France, 10: 30 a.m. Brazil vs. Denmark, 3 p.m.

Saturday

Netherlands vs. Argentina, 10: 30 a.m.

Germany vs. Croatia, 3 p.m.

Semifinals

Tuesday

Brazil-Denmark winner vs. Netherlands-Argentina winner, 3 p.m.

Next Wednesday

Italy-France winner vs. Germany-Croatia winner, 3 p.m.

Championship

July 12

Semifinal winners, 3 p.m.

Pub Date: 7/01/98

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