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The BBC's Simon Brotherton
"Argentina were not playing to the best of their abilities"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 23:43 GMT
Heskey shines in Wembley draw

Shearer comes close with an early header

England 0-0 Argentina

Emile Heskey produced an eye-catching display up front as England impressed in their "friendly" against old foes Argentina at Wembley.

Kevin Keegan's side, which included a number of fringe players keen to cement a Euro 2000 place, had the better of the rematch with the team that knocked them out of the last World Cup.

Emile Heskey: Star of the show
Argentina, rated by Keegan as the second best team in the world behind Brazil, rarely threatened.

And England did much to dispel the memories of their last performance, an awful 1-0 defeat by arch rivals Scotland, with a spirited, inventive display.

Heskey's pace and power proved dangerous throughout - and the Leicester youngster eclipsed some world-class players on his full debut.

I enjoyed every minute of it - it was good to get a start. It would've been nice to score, but I thought I did reasonably well
Man of the match Emile Heskey
Many pundits had questioned the inclusion of Heskey alongside Alan Shearer up front, but he was given a standing ovation when he was replaced with 10 minutes left.

In contrast, Argentina's celebrated frontman Gabriel Batistuta, did little up front and was withdrawn from the action 10 minutes into the second half, as the cultured visitors had their attacking intentions blunted by England's well-drilled defence.

Wembley tribute

England's players pay tribute to Sir Stanley Matthews
The Wembley encounter was one of coach Keegan's last chances to assess his players before naming his squad for Euro 2000.

And he will have been impressed with Chelsea captain Dennis Wise and Leeds winger Jason Wilcox, as well as the livewire Heskey.

The crowd observed a minute's silence in memory of Sir Stanley Matthews, whose death was announced before the match, and both sets of players wore black arm bands.

The lads can be very proud of their performance, especially in the first half. Emile had a great debut - he caused them all sorts of problems in the air.
Kevin Keegan
The teams have a history of famous encounters - including Maradona's "hand of God" match in 1986 and the France 98 penalty shoot-out thriller when David Beckham was sent off.

But despite Argentina's status as one of the powers of world football, they will return to South America never having beaten England at Wembley.

Frantic start

England pushed on from the first whistle and Heskey almost created a goal when he caught Argentine keeper Pablo Cavallero in possession - but strike partner Alan Shearer failed to hit the target from 25 yards with the goal gaping.

Deja vu? Beckham gets a card - this time it's yellow
And after 10 minutes Beckham's corner found Shearer at the back post, but he headed just wide.

Contests between these two teams are famously tempestuous and this one had its share of edgy moments.

Beckham, who was sent off in France 98 for a foul on Diego Simeone, was booked after 18 minutes for a high challenge on the same player.

We can be very pleased because we restored a lot of pride after the Scotland game. But I definitely should have had a penalty - I wouldn't have gone down otherwise, would I?
Alan Shearer
Within seconds England thought they should have had a penalty. Heskey powered down the left and crossed into the box, where Shearer stumbled to the floor under Jose Antonio Chamot's challenge - but the referee shrugged off the spot-kick claims.

England keeper David Seaman was not called on to make a save until the 21st minute, when he held Cristian Gonzalez's sharp shot at the second attempt.

Beckham, as ever, was at the centre of the action and he sent a swerving free-kick around the wall - but it just evaded Cavallero's right-hand post.

England were given rousing support on an encouraging night
Argentina had their own penalty appeal turned down five minutes before half-time, with Ariel Ortega instead booked for diving as Kieron Dyer closed him down.

Heskey should probably have opened the scoring after a trademark run three minutes before the break.

The Foxes frontman surged through the highly-rated Argentina defence, but rather than try his luck with a shot, he squared the ball across the area and the threat was hacked clear.

South American fightback

Argentina stepped up a gear after the break and Seaman did well to get down to hold Gonzales' drive from a sharp angle.

Shearer was convinced he should have had a penalty
But England continued to dominate and Heskey headed past the post from Jason Wilcox's precise cross.

Gonzales again came close for Argentina with a long-range shot - but Seaman was not genuinely tested at any stage.

Keegan swapped his front pair for Andy Cole and Kevin Phillips - and Cole forced Cavallero into a fine save with his first touch after good work from fellow substitute Ray Parlour and Paul Scholes.

Argentina's best chance of the night came 10 minutes from time, but replacement frontman Hernan Crespo totally miskicked when Ortega's pass fell to him 15 yards out.


England: Seaman, Keown, Campbell, Southgate, Dyer, Wilcox, Wise, Beckham, Scholes, Heskey, Shearer.
Subs: Martyn, P Neville, Ferdinand, Parlour, Sinclair, Phillips, Cole.

Argentina: Cavallero, Ayala, Arruabarrena, Sensini, Simeone, Chamot, Kily Gonzalez, Zanetti, Batistuta, Ortega, Veron.
Subs: Burgos, Vivas, Pocchettino, Husain, C Lopez, G Lopez, Crespo.

Referee: M Merk (Germany)

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See also:
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Argentine test for Keegan
23 Feb 00 |  Football
Football legend Matthews dies
22 Feb 00 |  Football
Heskey and Wise named for England
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Hughes turns to youth
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Butler set for late start
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We must perform - Keegan
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Beckham axed by Ferguson
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Football's flawed superstar?
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Keegan comfort for Beckham
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Shearer looks to future not past
Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.