10/10/2013 07:45, Report by Tim Oscroft
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#15 – Becks' salvation

David Beckham puts his lowest point behind him against old foes Argentina...

Player: David Beckham
Match: England v Argentina, 7 June 2002, Sapporo, Japan

Having fired England to the 2002 World Cup finals with a trademark free-kick against Greece at Old Trafford, who else but David Beckham would grab centre-stage when the national team renewed its rivalry with Argentina in Japan?

Argentine skipper Antonio Rattin's sending off at Wembley in 1966 had left a sour taste despite England's 1-0 win and Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal 20 years later created another contentious talking point between the two countries. Then, in 1998, Beckham was harshly vilified back home for his red card, after flicking out a leg against Diego Simeone in France, and while he had answered his critics perfectly since then, he still had unfinished business to attend to in Sapporo.

The draw for the finals ensured the United midfielder would face is nemesis in England's second group-stage match and his big moment arrived after 42 minutes when Michael Owen was fouled by current Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino. Keeping his cool under immense pressure, Beckham drilled the penalty just off centre past keeper Pablo Cavallero to put his France '98 misery firmly behind him. The penalty was enough for England to record a famous win; Argentina, however, bowed out after failing to beat Sweden in their next match.

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