By 90Min
May 20, 2018

As England rode the crest of another World Cup wave in the summer of 1998 in France, the Three Lions would once more fall to the Damocles sword of the penalty shootout that year.

Spot-kick woe had and would go hand-in-hand with the national side during the years to come, and whilst that June night in Saint-Etienne would again take England fans to the emotional brink once more, it was also the creation of one of their brightest stars that illuminated central France.

Ross Kinnaird/GettyImages

Despite Glenn Hoddle's men going on to lose 4-3 on penalties to Argentina, Michael Owen's burst of brilliance at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard that evening would live long in the memory for England fans, as supporters worldwide witnessed the arrival of the teenager from Chester. 

But just how good was his goal that night?

As England hauled themselves level from the penalty spot via Alan Shearer in the ninth minute - won by Michael Owen after being felled by Roberto Ayala - the two again played the protagonists for a moment of World Cup magic that would have whetted and indeed rivalled the palette any of the region's fine wines in the Loire valley that evening.

With the game refusing to escape the throes of a frenetic start, the duo of Sol Campbell and Paul Ince had successfully thwarted another attacking ball towards the prowling Gabriel Batistuta to add to his tally that night, as the men in white shirts then offered their own offensive foray to the opposite end of the field. And how.

As the ball fell to David Beckham in the 16th minute - who would have his own infamous say on proceedings later in the game - inside his own half, the Manchester United star, who had been central to England's hopes as the tournament had progressed, found his teammate with Albiceleste playing a predatory high line.


The Argentines had planned to shackled the 18-year-old Liverpool forward, who had forced his way into a place in the squad after an electric 1997/98 Premier League and having opened his World Cup account versus Romania in the group stages, but were powerless to prevent Owen's mazy run around and across the boughs of the Argentina defence.

As Jose Chamot went shoulder-to-shoulder with the scampering striker, Owen breezed past his opponent with Ayala attempting to provide cover on the right of defence. Owen second guessed the Valencia centre back and veered back towards goal, still fobbing off the advances of Chamot.

With goalkeeper Carlos Roa now venturing out of goal to close down the angle, the Reds' forward then pulled of his final wave of the magic wand on an awe-inspiring drive through the Argentinian spine.

Owen cut back inside and then into the penalty area with Paul Scholes arriving for the pass, and with a mass of navy shirts racing back forlornly to quell the English threat, the precocious teen took a touch and lobbed an effort above the recovering defence and high into the Argentina net, as Owen wheeled away to celebrate with an England support in ecstasy. 

Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

Three Lions' boss Hoddle had been applauded for making the tough decisions in leaving out Paul Gascoigne from his squad, and having picked Owen as the wildcard in his 23-man squad, he had been rewarded for his bravery as Owen burst onto the world stage in explosive style.

The goal is still considered by many as one of the greatest England goals in history, with a vote in 2013 ranking it number three on the list of Three Lions goals.

In a moment of individual brilliance, Owen had given England the momentum against one of the strongest footballing superpowers in world football in Argentina, and once again showed that the former World champions were capable of greatness in a moment, that will stand the test of time in World Cup folklore for generations to come.

We just won't mention the rest of that night...

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