Leeds United nostalgia: Batty miss condemns England to the exit

David Batty
David Batty
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FORMER Leeds United star David Batty gained 42 caps for England and there’s no denying which was the most painful.

The midfielder’s missed penalty against Argentina in the summer of 1998 sent England out of the World Cup last 16.

But there was no sign of such heartache one week earlier – 18 years ago last week – when Batty helped England beat Colombia 2-0 to seal a second-placed finish in Group G and put the Three Lions on a collision course with Argentina.

Batty was a Newcastle United player at the time but was nearing the end of his stint at St James’ Park and just six months short of embarking upon a second spell at Leeds – under David O’Leary.

The midfielder would go on to prove a key member of O’Leary’s exciting outfit that gained qualification for first the UEFA Cup and then, famously, the Champions League.

Sixteen years ago this week, world domination was on Batty and England’s minds and the Three Lions only needed a draw against Colombia to progress through the Group Stage.

The World Cup had began well for England who beat Tunisia 2-0 in their opening game but a 2-1 loss to eventual group winners Romania left the Colombia clash as crucial, with the South Americas having also beaten Tunisia and lost to Romania.

Romania’s 1-1 draw left them top of the group with victory against Colombia sending England through in second.

Batty, who was 29 at the time, had played the full 90 minutes of England’s first two Group games but was then dropped to the bench for the Romania tie, not that there was any disgrace in making way given his replacement.

A 23-year-old David Beckham took Batty’s place in midfield and would go on to score his first goal for England to seal a 2-0 victory. Batty later replaced Paul Ince as an 83rd minute substitute when England were 2-0 up and already home and hosed. England lined up with David Seaman in goal, behind Gary Neville, Sol Campbell and Tony Adams, with Darren Anderton and Graeme Le Saux out wide.

Beckham, Ince and Paul Scholes formed the midfield, behind Michael Owen and captain Alan Shearer upfront.

England dominated from the off with only some smart saves by Colombia ’keeper Farid Mondragon and poor finishing keeping the score goalless.

But Anderton put that right when he lashed home a 19th-minute opener after Colombia failed to deal with Owen’s cross.

Owen and Le Saux then both squandered good chances before Beckham took centre stage by rifling home a stunning 25-yard free-kick, just nine minutes after Anderton’s opener.

Already, it was job done, with Colombia offering very little resistance after the break as Scholes – twice, a galloping Sol Campbell and then Owen all went close to adding a third.

With eight minutes left, Hoddle brought on Batty for Ince with England en route to facing Argentina in the last 16.

The irony is that both Batty and the player he was substituted for would then both miss crucial penalties in the next game against Argentina which turned on Beckham’s red card.

STATS

England 2

(Anderton 19, Beckham 28)

Columbia 0


Colombia: Mondragon, Cabrera, Bermudez, Palacios, Moreno, Serna (Aristizabal, 45), Lozano, Rincon, Valderrama, Preciado (Valencia, 45), De Avila (Ricard, 45).

England: Seaman, Neville, Adams, Campbell, Anderton (Lee, 78), Beckham, Ince (Batty, 82), Le Saux, Scholes (McManaman, 73), Owen, Shearer.

Norman Hunter clears the ball for Bristol City on their visit to Elland Road to face his former club Leeds United in March 1978. The Robins won 2-0, giving them the double over the Whites having won 3-2 at Ashton Gate the previous October. Picture: Laurie Mercer.

Flashback - Bristol City v Leeds United - When Whites legend Norman Hunter rocked his former club