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26 June 1998 Group G Lens - Stade Felix-Bollaert
Colombia England
An outstanding display by a rampant England side saw them brush aside the challenge of Colombia to qualify comfortably for the last sixteen, as stunning first-half goals from Anderton and Beckham ensured an impressive 2-0 victory. The result means that Glenn Hoddle's side finish runners-up in Group G, following Romania's 1-1 draw with Tunisia this evening, and they will now meet Argentina in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, St Etienne, on Tuesday 30 June at 8.00pm (BST). England went into the game needing only a draw against Colombia to progress to the second stage, but they had not won against South American opposition for eight years and there was a distinct air of pessimism after the poor showing and 2-1 defeat by Romania last week. Hoddle included 18-year-old Michael Owen in his starting line-up and recalled David Beckham in a central midfield role in place of David Batty, in a positive team selection with a refreshing degree of unpredictability and a blend of youth and experience. England were out of the traps first and Paul Scholes stung the hands of Farid Mondragon with a viciously hit 25-yarder in just the second minute before Michael Owen's hooked volley from Darren Anderton's waist-high cross flew harmlessly over the bar. Alan Shearer then failed to get enough purchase on another Anderton cross after 10 minutes, as Colombia's left-back, Moreno, only playing because of Jose Santa's one-match ban, struggled to get to grips with the flying Spurs man. When Colombia finally did gain possession, which coincided with Valderrama's early involvement, they gave the English a lesson in passing, as they played keepball for ten minutes. However, apart from a longe-range shot from Leider Preciado, David Seaman in the English goal was a virtual spectator and on 20 minutes the 30,000 England fans in a crowd of 41,275 were celebrating their side's stunning opener. Once more the move built up down the right flank with Owen working terrifically hard to win the ball back, and when his cross was headed out to the feet of Anderton, the control and finish was breathtaking. No 'keeper in the world could have saved the strike that arrowed into the top corner of the Colombian net, to totally justify Hoddle's faith in selecting a player who had only played in a handful of games before these finals. Little had been seen of Owen until that moment, but the message from the England bench was simple, keep getting the ball out to Anderton and get players in the box for the cross. The Liverpool youngster was the next to benefit from a superb delivery from the right, but for once this season his shooting boots deserted him, with his dipping volley just too high. It was all England, with Beckham and Scholes running the show from the centre of the park, whilst the combative Paul Ince and Tony Adams ensured that no-one shirked their responsibilities. An expectant hush settled around the stadium on the half-hour mark as Beckham lined up a 28-yard free-kick following a foul on Ince, and the United midfielder did not disappoint with the finest dead-ball strike of the tournament so far. Early in the season Beckham knocked in these efforts with a frightening regularity, but that form had deserted him recently. However, the sight of the ball nestling in the bottom right-hand corner of the net, after his unique technique of whipping across the ball with the instep, laid to rest all the personal heartbreak he had recently suffered and more importantly put his side 2-0 up. With the match effectively won barring disaster, naturally England took their foot of the gas and cruised into the half-time interval for refuelling, whilst Colombia needed a miracle if they were to avoid being the first South American side on their way home from France 98. A triple Colombian substitution at the start of the second half highlighted coach Hernan Dario Gomez's intentions as he replaced his entire attack, introducing Victor Aristizabal, Hamilton Ricard and Adolfo Valencia. Instead of the changes sparking the Colombians into action, they seemed to have an adverse affect, as England tore into their opponents with some devastating football. First Scholes struck a shot destined for the top corner, only to see Mondragon save superbly, then Shearer had a header saved, before Scholes again grazed the post with a clever scissors-kick from yet another Anderton cross. The chances continued, with Shearer latching onto Beckham's wonderful 50-yard pass to see his 20-yard drive saved, then Campbell's magnificent 60-yard run ended with Owen's toe-poke scrambled away for a corner. Colombia were shell-shocked in the face of this English bombardment and only Hamilton Ricard's opportunist volley on 70 minutes threatened Seaman as Hoddle's men created enough clear-cut chances to have won by six or seven goals. Michael Owen will be disappointed not to have scored his second goal of the tournament on 84 minutes when put clear by Shearer, but the youngster opted for power rather than placement and Mondragon again saved well. The match ended as the stadium reverberated with the clamour of the English supporters' applause and quite a few questions had been well and truly answered. A positive England look as good a side as any in the championship, Michael Owen is the natural and right partner for Alan Shearer, Darren Anderton totally justifies selection and David Beckham IS a central midfield player after producing one of the best performances of the tournament. England have nothing to fear from Argentina as long as they approach the game in a similarly positive fashion on Tuesday night.

(0-1) Anderton (20). Owen's right-wing cross was headed clear by Bermudez only as far as the England right wing-back who controlled the ball superbly before lashing home a vicious right-footed volley high into the roof of the Colombian net giving 'keeper Mondragon little chance from 12 yards.

(0-2) Beckham (30). Paul Ince was hauled down some 28 yards from goal in a central position and up stepped the Manchester United free-kick expert to weigh up his options, before curling a magnificent right-footed shot up and over the five-man Colombian wall, to dip into the right-hand side of Mondragon's net, giving the 'keeper no chance.

 
 
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