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763 vs. Scotland
764 vs. Scotland

766 vs. Brazil

Wednesday, 23 February 2000
A Nationwide International Friendly Match

England 0 Argentina 0 [0-0]

Wembley Stadium, Wembley, Brent, Greater London
Attendance: 74,008;
Kick-off: 8.00pm GMT
Live on Sky Sports (UK) - Commentator: Martin Tyler and Andy Gray

Match Summary
England Squad
Argentina Squad

England - David Beckham (19), Dennis Wise (46)
Argentina - Rodolfo Arrubarrena (23), Ariel Ortega (40),
José Chamot (59), Roberto Ayala (90).
Results 1995-2000

? kicked-off. ? minutes (? & ?).


Match Summary

Officials from Germany




Ar gent ina  
Referee (green) - Marcus Merk
37 (15 March 1962), FIFA-listed 1992.

Assistant Referees - Kurt Ertls, 41 (11 September 1958) and Heiner Muller, 38.

Fourth official - Herbert Fandel, 35 (9 May 1964), FIFA-listed 1998.

Teams presented to Roger Hunt, MBE, ex-England striker;
 England mascot is Lucy Sadler, 11 years old, Stanford-Le-Hope.
A minute's silence before kickoff was observed following the death earlier in the day of Sir Stanley Matthews.  The England team and most of the Argentine players wore black armbands.
8 Goal Attempts 6
1 Attempts on Target 2
  Hit Bar/Post  
4 Corner Kicks Won 3
3 Offside Calls Against 5
21 Fouls Conceded 22

England Team



FIFA (16 February 2000) 11th
EFO ranking

ELO rating 11th to 12th
Colours: The 1999 Umbro away uniform - Red shadow pinbanded jersey with navy collar/cuffs, white shorts, red socks.
Capt: Alan Shearer, 28th captaincy. 
Sol Campbell 77th min.
Head Coach: Joseph Kevin Keegan OBE, 49 (14 February 1951), appointed as caretaker coach 17 February 1999, full-time 14 May 1999.
10th match, W 4 - D 5 - L 1 - F 15 - A 5.
England Lineup
1 Seaman, David A. 36 19 September 1963 G Arsenal FC 56 29 GA
2 Dyer, Kieron C., off 58th min. 21 29 December 1978 RM Newcastle United FC 4 0
3 Southgate, Gareth 29 3 September 1970 CD Aston Villa FC 34 1
4 Wise, Dennis F. 33 16 December 1966 CM Chelsea FC 14 1
Wise was cautioned thirty-five seconds into the second half for a foul, for upending Gonzales with a late tackle
5 Campbell, Sulzeer J. 25 18 September 1974 LB Tottenham Hotspur FC 30 0
6 Keown, Martin R., off 46th min. 33 24 July 1966 RB Arsenal FC 28 1
7 Beckham, David R.J., off 72nd min. 24 2 May 1975 CM Manchester United FC 28 1
8 Scholes, Paul 25 16 November 1974 AM Manchester United FC 21 9
9 Shearer, Alan, off 77th min. 29 13 August 1970 F Newcastle United FC 57 28
10 Heskey, Emile W.I., off 78th min. 22 11 January 1978 F Leicester City FC 5 0
11 Wilcox, Jason M. 28 15 July 1971 LM Leeds United AFC 3 0
England Substitutes
14 Ferdinand, Rio G., on 46th min. for Keown 21 7 November 1978 RB West Ham United FC 9 0
12 Neville, Philip J., on 58th min. for Dyer 23 21 January 1977 RM Manchester United FC 23 0
15 Parlour, Raymond, on 72nd min. for Beckham 26 7 March 1973 CM Arsenal FC 6 0
17 Phillips, Kevin M., on 77th min. for Shearer 26 25 July 1973 F Sunderland AFC 3 0
18 Cole, Andrew A., on 78th min. for Heskey 28 15 October 1971 F Manchester United FC 7 0
unused substitutes: 13-Nigel Martyn, 16-Trevor Sinclair.
3-4-1-2 Seaman -
Keown (Ferdinand), Southgate, Campbell -
Dyer (Neville), Beckham (Parlour), Wise, Wilcox -
Scholes -
Shearer (Phillips), Heskey


Age 27.7 Appearances/Goals - -


Argentina Team



FIFA (16 February 2000) 6th
EFO ranking

ELO rating 6th
Colours: Made by Reebok - Sky blue and white striped v-neck collared jerseys with sky blue sleeves and white collar/cuffs, trimmed with darker blue, blue shorts with white side trim, white socks with blue trim.
Capt: Nester Sensini Manager: Marcelo Alberto Bielsa Caldera, 44 (21 July 1955), appointed 18 August 1999,
15th match, W 7 - D 4 - L 4 - F 20 - A 15.
Argentina Lineup
1 Cavallero Rodriguez, Pablo O. 25 13 April 1974 G RCD Espanyol de Barcelona SAD, Spain 5 3ᵍᵃ
2 Ayala, Roberto F. 26 14 April 1973 CD AC Milan SpA, Italy 56 2
Ayala cautioned after 90 minutes for unsporting behaviour, for a delay in taking a free kick.
3 Arruabarrena, Rodolfo M., off 66th min. 24 20 July 1975 LB CA Boca Juniors 5 0
4 Sensini, R. Nester, off 34th min. 33 12 October 1966 CD SS Lazio SpA, Italy 52 0
5 Simeone Gonzalez, Diego P. 29 28 April 1970 M SS Lazio SpA, Italy 88 1
6 Chamot, José A. 30 17 May 1969 M AC Milan SpA, Italy 40 2
7 Gonzalez Peret, Cristian A. 25 4 August 1974 M Valencia CF SAD, Spain 3 2
8 Zanetti, Javier A. 26 10 August 1973 DM FC Internazionale Milano SpA, Italy 49 3
9 Batistuta, Gabriel O., off 56th min. 31 1 February 1969 F ACF Fiorentina SpA, Italy 70 50
10 Ortega, A. Ariel, off 90th +1 min. 25 4 March 1974 F SSD Parma Calcio 1913 Srl, Italy 65 14
11 Veron, Juan Sebastian 24 9 March 1975 M SS Lazio SpA, Italy 28 2
Argentina Substitutes
14 Pochettino Trossero, Mauricio R., on 34th min. for Sensini 27 2 March 1972 CD RCD Espanyol de Barcelona SAD, Spain 8 1
18 Crespo, Hernon J., on 56th min. for Batistuta 24 5 July 1975 F SSD Parma Calcio 1913 Srl, Italy 21 7
13 Vivas, Nelson D., on 66th min. for Arruabarrena 30 18 October 1969 RB RC Celta de Vigo SAD, Spain on loan from Arsenal FC, England 25 1
17 Lopez Pablo, Gustavo A., on 90th+1 min. for Ortega 25 13 April 1974 M RC Celta de Vigo SAD, Spain 10 3
unused substitutes: 12-German Burgos, 15-Claudio Husain, 16-Claudio Lopez.
3-5-2 -


Age - Appearances/Goals - -


    Match Report by Josh Benn

Billed as the St. Etienne rematch, this fixture gave England the chance to assess their progress against one of the world's finest footballing nations.  Doubts about England's capabilities had quickly resurfaced after their inept performance in losing to Scotland in the second leg of the Euro 2000 playoff game last November, but this had helped to dampen any unrealistic expectations about England's chances against Argentina.  In recent years England's February fixture has proved troublesome.  Losses to Italy in 1997 and Chile in 1998 and an uninspiring 2-0 defeat against world champions France in 1999 have made the first international of the year a seemingly tricky match for England to negotiate safely.

Kevin Keegan surprised many England supporters by selecting Leicester's Emile Heskey to partner Alan Shearer rather than the in-form Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips with his more natural goal-scoring abilities.  In addition, his selection of Dennis Wise raised a few eyebrows considering recent doubts about his temperament both during and after matches.

England's midfield had a combative look about it with three players whose domestic and international disciplinary record didn't bear close inspection. Alongside Wise, Paul Scholes, recently returned from a hernia operation, and David Beckham, recently returned from the stands (after Sir Alex Ferguson dropped him for missing a training session) would ensure that Argentina were unlikely to have the better of the midfield exchanges.

Jason Wilcox on the left and Kieron Dyer on the right were picked specifically to target crosses for the England front two, while Sol Campbell's partnership with the impressive Martin Keown and Gareth Southgate in the heart of England's defence added skill and experience to the back line. David Seaman, still Keegan and England's first choice, kept out the in-form Leeds keeper Nigel Martyn.

Argentina, whose qualification campaign for the World Cup starts shortly, fielded a very experienced side, eight of the starting eleven playing first-team football in Italy. They were in town to win--rather than to shop, as some commentators suggested.  Batistuta, Ortega, Veron, Sensini and Simeone--all players of superb quality--were the most likely to cause problems for England, and the scene was set for an intriguing encounter.

Another Wembley full house screamed on the arrival of the two teams, and despite pleas from the Football Association and Keegan, a xenophobic minority booed and hissed during the Argentinean national anthem and repeatedly chanted "Same old Argies - always cheating" at any and every opportunity.

England started with purpose and determination, Emile Heskey in particular looked aggressive in the challenge and the 33-year-old Sensini, for all his experience, immediately looked in trouble trying to keep the striker in check.  Heskey's aerial power threatened to overwhelm Argentina at times and he hardly came away second best from any encounter during the whole match.

Beckham and Wise, trusted with the distribution of the ball from midfield, made particular use of Wilcox on the left, and his early crosses formed the main attacks in the Argentina half for the first 20 minutes. Kieron Dyer, despite a performance of vitality during his debut last year, rarely looked a threat wide on the right.

Heskey was not having it all his own way and Ortega and Veron exchanged a delicate pass on the touchline that resulted in a cross from Ortega which Southgate was first to head away. However, within a minute, Heskey, chasing down the seeming lost cause of a back pass to Cavallero, hurried the keeper into making a poor clearance which fell to Shearer on the edge of the area. His snap attempt at a lob, had it been on target, would have been a remarkable opener for England.

Shearer had a much better opportunity to open the scoring following an in-swinging Beckham corner that he headed just wide of the far post. Ayala looked to have tugged at Shearer while he jumped and the captain was unable to head on target for what proved to be his best scoring chance of the night. A half-hearted shout for a penalty a few minutes later for a dubious challenge by Sensini in the six-yard box marked the effective end of Shearer's striking role in the game and his eventual substitution on 78 minutes closed another ineffectual performance.

Heskey's attacking athleticism, on the other hand, was clearly making life uncomfortable for Argentina in general and Sensini in particular. During one pause in the game (when Heskey had fallen awkwardly) two of the Argentinean players raced to the touch-line for an impromptu discussion with the coach. Several minutes later Sensini gave way to Pochettino in a tactical substitution. It is rare to see substitutions in the first half except for an injury and it is a clear testament to Heskey as a surprise package that he provoked such a move. It says much about Argentina's strengths that they are prepared to sacrifice their captain after only half and hour; unfortunately, it says much about their weakness and arrogance that they didn't care enough to find anything out about Emile Heskey before the game.

Kevin Keegan is clearly not convinced about which role to play Beckham in. His wide position is established at club level and he has proven to be one of the best crossers of the ball from the right. His credentials as a central midfield playmaker are less distinguished and despite encouraging signs he gives the ball away far too easily and does not have the defensive qualities such an important position demands. Dennis Wise seems better balanced in this role and his season with Chelsea this year suggests that Keegan is more likely to persist with him in the centre rather than Beckham. Certainly his performance in this game has given him every reason to expect that a squad place is there for the taking. His temperamental side was fleetingly glimpsed when he was unnecessarily booked only 35 seconds into the second half for a late challenge on Cristian Gonzales.

Despite the question mark as a central midfielder, Beckham started and nearly finished England's best move of the whole game midway through the first half. He dispossessed Ortega 20 yards into the England half, Wise tidied up and passed to Campbell, who quickly found Wilcox on the left. His long pass to Heskey was beautifully chested off to Shearer, who laid a firm pass on to the stretching Beckham running into the 'D' of the penalty area.  Beckham's badly mistimed touch sent Ayala tumbling to the ground in agony.   

Although not a natural goalscorer, Beckham has one further talent that sets him apart from other players--his ability to use the dead ball. His 35-yard effort on 25 minutes had Cavellero scampering across to see the ball whistle by the upright. Only Alan Shearer during his peak could rival Beckham for free kicks and this element of his game will prove to be a vital weapon in England's armoury during Euro 2000.

By contrast, David Seaman only had one save to make in the first half. Batistuta, battling near the touch-line against Dyer and Keown, set up a delightful short pass to Gonzales, who slipped past Southgate and fired a fierce snap shot which surprised Seaman. He could only parry the shot upwards and properly save it on his second touch.

For all the hype surrounding Batistuta's talents as a goal scorer, it was the diminutive Daniel Ortega who provided the most imaginative plays for the South Americans.  His low centre of gravity coupled with breathtaking ball control ensured that England never had it all their own way. Batistuta was for the most part a quiet and forlorn figure standing alone by the centre circle. 

With the exception of Tony Adams, the trio of Sol Campbell, Martin Keown and Gareth Southgate represent the finest defensive team Kevin Keegan has at his disposal. Keown in particular is at the peak of his game and his substitution at halftime through injury, although lamented, gave everyone the chance to see another England prospect, Rio Ferdinand.

Ferdinand has wonderful ball skills and a cool head rarely matched by players with double his playing years under their belt. Despite all these attributes, he lacks experience. Playing cheeky passes across your own penalty area may make wonderful television during a friendly but becomes a massive liability during a tournament. His temperament and skill is reminiscent of Liverpool and Derby's Mark Wright, and Keegan needs to nurture his excellent talent.

Cristian Gonzales provided Argentina's best scoring chance in the first half and continued to conjure up opportunities in the second. An acute low shot to the near post had Seaman getting down smartly to save and his 30 yard 'grass-cutter' on 77 minutes only missed the England keeper's far post by inches.

Batistuta's inevitable departure made room for the in-form and very dangerous Parma striker Hernan Crespo. His arrival almost secured a win for the visitors when Ortega, doing well to stay on his feet, crossed to the currently on-loan Arsenal defender Nelson Vivas to head down into Crespo's path. His wild and somewhat comical miskick came within inches of putting an artificial gloss on Argentina's performance.

Paul Scholes had one of his quietest matches in an England shirt. Known for his tenacious tackling and excellent midfield goal-scoring record, he hardly featured in the game at any stage.  His recent return from a hernia operation and lack of match fitness seemed an acceptable excuse for his performance, but the tactical ploy of pushing the ball over the top to Emile Heskey did much more to squeeze him out of the game. His best performances come when he plays in the hole behind the front two, but the system of long balls forward and short balls wide will severely limit his capacity to damage opponents by ghosting into the penalty area.

Andy Cole must be wondering what he has to do to force a place in Keegan's starting eleven. His treble-winning efforts for Manchester United and his excellent Premiership scoring record this season ought to make him an automatic choice, but somehow Kevin Keegan, like his predecessors, cannot find it within himself to play him (or even pick him for the squad) regularly. Within a minute of his appearance against Argentina, he had forced the only real save of the night from Cavellaro after a deft through ball from Ray Parlour. Those who remember Cole's first-ever England appearance as a substitute against Uruguay may also remember he hit the bar with a header on his first effort. Had that gone in, one wonders if he might not have partnered Alan Shearer a bit more frequently over the years. Cole may go to the European Championship as one of the five nominated strikers; history suggests only a bit part awaits.

Kevin Philips, like Heskey, lacks big match experience and is generally unproven on the international scene. The 12 minutes he was given to show his skills were not enough to gauge his potential. His scoring prowess and attacking appetite are not in question but his capacity to damage opponents and beat top quality international defenders has yet to be witnessed.  England's encounter against Brazil in May looks to be his best chance to show what he is made of.

England and Argentina left Wembley with honours even.  How sides perform at tournament level is, of course, what distinguishes good sides from great ones. England will need to perform several notches above their current level to compete with the likes of Germany, Portugal and Romania come June.

Although it is a disappointment that England's next match is nearly three months away, their opponents, Brazil, unquestionably the best side in the world, may provide the best pointer yet to England's prospects for a successful campaign in 2000. - JB

Source Notes

Original newspaper reports
Rothman's Yearbooks
F.A. Yearbook