Football: England undone by the `new Maradona'

England 1 Argentina 2
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The Independent Online
The scoreline was the same as it was in 1986, the last time these two nations met competitively, albeit at senior level, in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City.

Then it was the Hand of God goal from Diego Maradona that scuppered England. Yesterday in the Larkin Stadium in the second round of the Coca-Cola World Youth Cup, it was faulty passing that undermined England's attempt to remove the holders, who now go on to face their high-scoring South American neighbours from Brazil. "We gave the ball away needlessly," the England manager, Ted Powell, said.

Forks of lightning flashed in the distance as Argentina took a decisive grip in the early stages. Lightning was certainly not the name of England's game, as one move after another foundered on a misplaced pass.

Typical was the wretched ball out of defence from the captain, John Curtis, that put Pablo Aimar in possession. That ninth-minute error was compounded by Mark Jackson's rash challenge. Down in a theatrical tumble went the Argentinian and down, too, to no avail, went David Lucas as Roman Riquelme sent him the wrong way with the penalty.

Curtis atoned by blocking a drive by Aimar and with a stirring tackle on the same 17-year-old, who has assumed the burden of being the "new Maradona". But neither Curtis nor his outstanding Manchester United club- mate, Ronnie Wallwork, could get close enough to Aimar or Bernardo Romeo during a dazzling double exchange of passes. England were carved wide open and Aimar sidefooted the ball in off a post.

Jackson, who had been delegated to escort Aimar, took time off to come agonisingly close with a header from a Jody Morris free-kick but it was not until Morris stepped aside to let Ritchie Humphreys loft over another free-kick in the 48th minute that England profited. Jamie Carragher's reward for an impressive contribution to England's midfield was to find himself unmarked for a header that belatedly made a game of it.

ENGLAND (4-4-2): Lucas (Preston); Dyer (Ipswich), Wallwork (Manchester United), Curtis (Man United), Crowe (Arsenal); Jackson (Leeds); Murphy (Crewe), Carragher (Liverpool), Morris (Chelsea); Owen (Liverpool), Humphreys (Sheffield Wednesday). Substitute: Euell (Wimbledon) for Humphreys, 80).

ARGENTINA (1-2-4-2-1): Munoz (Sarmiento); Cufre (Esgrima LP); Serrizuela (Lanus), Samuel (Newell Old Boys); Riquelme (Boca Juniors), Markic (Argentina Juniors), Cambiasso (Real Madrid), Placente (Argentina Juniors); Aimar (River Plate), Quintana (Newell Old Boys); Romeo (Estudiantes). Substitutes: Cubero (Velez Sarsfield) for Cambiasso, 81); Perezlindo (Union Santa Fe) for Aimar, 85.

Referee: S Piller (Hungary).