Chapter 70: Just Making Our Way Through Japan And Korea
Chapter 70
Just Making Our Way Through Japan And Korea

It would be on June 15th that the first of the knockout stage games would begin and by chance it just so happened that England would be staring in the opening match with Paraguay. Many Englishmen were thinking that they had a decent chance to progress as was most in England saw the South Americans as a bye to the Quarter-finals; play them and they are through. Granted Paraguay didn't have the same pedigree such as their larger neighbours such as Argentina or Brazil, but it would've been foolish to simply rubbish off their chances according to Glen Hoddle. While so far he had been pleased how well England had done so far by topping their group to get here and to most getting the team back on course after the poor showing at Euro 2000, the manager wasn't wanting to think the game was a forgone conclusion. Out in the Korean city of Seogwipo, the English fans had travelled in large numbers to get here and inside the forty-two seater stadium, the English fans seemed to outnumber the Paraguay fans by two to one, and there was a sense of confidence being felt off the fans as they chanted pre-game, cheered loudly when the players emerged on the field and sang the national anthem with pure gusto.

The South American contingent in the stadium where doing all they could to make a sound and get behind their team, but the opening period of the game proved to be something of a nightmare for him. Even right in the fourth minute of the game, England won a corner after going all out at Paraguay and even though it was headed clear by Celso Ayala for Paraguay, the ball landed near Trevor Sinclair who from twenty yards outside the box tried to go on the volley and the ball only went narrowly over the bar. The Dragons attempted to make another shot on target when David Beckham made a run on the counter in the 12th minute in which he crossed it over towards Michael Owen who tried to headed it home downwards but Paraguayan keeper, Luis Chilavent made a diving save in order to prevent England from getting a goal. To say it was all looking good for the Three Lions would be an understatement.

As good as it was for England for getting a number of chances, they were proving to be wasteful either by poor final third, panicking slightly or the efforts of the keeper and it wouldn't be long until the twenty-third minute in which Paraguay gained some confidence from these errors and began to push the red shirted Welsh players back to their half. In that minute, Paraguay's first decent chance came when they won a free kick on the right side of the field nearby the touchline in which Carlos Bonnet Curled the ball up and over the Welsh wall and nearly into the Welsh goal in which England's keeper, David Seaman, had to come out and knock it over the bar and out for a corner for the South Americans. After than near mishap, England managed to quickly regroup and began pushing Paraguay back into their own half and their efforts were rewarded when they were rewarded a corner kick in the twenty-third minute, which incidentally was also their first. As a Beckham corner was swung in from the right, the referee's whistle blew. BBC commentator John Motson, like most of many watching at home, assumed the usual cheap free-kick being rewarded to the defending side.

24277-zoom.jpg

Santa Cruz during the early parts of the opening half with England

What happened next left both sides stunned and confused at what the referee was ordering. "And has he given a penalty, has he?! HE HAS!" Motson spluttered in near disbelief. The Paraguay players either clasped their heads with similar incredulity or performed an angry ensemble dance around the referee as he motioned to Celso Ayala, suggesting that his light examination of Michael Owen's shirt while in the box was the offence and thus saw him get a yellow card. As the appeal process inevitably stalled, the penalty area cleared and everyone got out of the way, Beckham was left standing on the spot and placed the ball. A further delay – the referee wanted the ball re-placed. The Paraguay keeper, José Luis Chilavert, bounced on his line awaiting for the spot kick to be taken.

Beckham stepped up, Chilavert guessed and leapt the right way, but the shot sliced away from his gloves and into the top left. Cue scenes of a delighted English captain running off in celebration over his goal. It was hard to tell if England should've been awarded a rather soft penalty, though to give the South American side credit, they didn't give up and pressed forward trying to find an equaliser. However they didn't seem to have any luck to break through as the English defence and midfield seemed to have no trouble in trying to defend their slender lead and Seaman became pretty much a spectator for the rest of the first half when other than encounter a missed cross here and there, the only thing he could do was stare at the big score board and wonder how long they had left. In the end, England ended the first half leading 1-0 and as much as it had been a fairly decent first half for them, a lot more was needed...

---------​

While England were feeling good about leading at the break, Paraguay had proved to be a rough team and some of the players knew that if they could not add to their lead then it would allow for Paraguay to get back into the game. Tensions seem to hit the ground running for it wouldn't be long until the referee would book Roberto Acuña in the forty-seventh minute for a challenge on Nicky Butt, thus allowing for England to get a free kick which sadly came to nothing. It wouldn't be the last challenge that day as the game after that in the closing period of the first half seemed to get all rather scrappy with both teams fighting tooth and nail to get a late goal in the opening half and this saw a range of fouls and challenges on both sets of players which some looked clearly there to be booked, instead the referee seemed more interested in trying to keep the flow of the game going.

apr-2002-darius-vassell-of-england-takes-the-ball-past-carlos-paredes-picture-id72351482

England vs Paraguay during the early parts of the game

The referee had to get in and calm nerves and the frustration was being felt even up on the terraces where the infamous story among English supporters of a fight between a Paraguayan fan and a England supporter (allegedly from Middlesbrough) both got into a scuffle too in which saw both ejected from the stadium. As small as that moment might've been, it was something of a warning to all that this game might just get ugly sooner than later. England however were doing all the pressing in the opening period of the second half and Robbie Fowler (having been brought on for a substitute for the start of the second half) unleashed a twenty-five yard drive straight at the Paraguayan keeper, before an instinctive shot on the turn from Emilie Heskey was tipped over the bar. Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt were almost taking it in turns to raid down the wings and, right in the sixty-third minute of the game, the endeavour was rewarded with a beautifully crafted second goal.

Butt's quick one-two with Scholes set him free on the left and his first-time cross whipped into the Paraguay box. In came the forehead of Fowler to direct a stunning header into the far corner, a finish every bit as aesthetically pleasing for any World cup. His crazed grin said it all as he celebrated with his teammates; England were flying and Paraguay looked dead and buried by this point though as it would turn out, they were not going to go out without a fight though in this case being more ways than one. It was just seven minutes later after that second goal for England in which Paraguay, who by this point were starting to get caught on the backfoot, found a rare burst of confidence going forward in which Denis Caniza broke through the English defence before crossing it over towards Acuña nearby and it looked as though that he was about to help score and unlikely goal for his country as he went running into the box.

However, he held onto the ball for far too long as David Seaman would make a perfectly timed dive onto the ball to snatch it off Acuña's feet and end that challenge, however what happened next would become infamous in which a frustrated Acuña who was not having a good day being 2-0 down and on a booking would let his frustrations out when he kicked Seaman just as he was getting up and the England fans and players roared for action to be taking and it was delivered in which the referee ran over and presented the Paraguayan player with not only his second yellow, but a red card to boot (no pun intended). Paraguay were down to ten men and England now had a great chance to add a third and pretty much end this game.

992c7e21cef564ca4fc783677bce20f6.jpg

The sending off taking place
With it starting to dawn on Paraguay that this game was slipping out from their grasp, the only thing they could do now was pretty much sit and defend to make sure that the damage would not get worse though being down to ten men wasn't exactly the best situation to be in. In the seventy-ninth minute, Teddy Sheringham, having come on for Heskey just ten minutes ago, delivered that moment to cement England's place in the next round. Rio Ferdinand sent a long ball to Trevor Sinclair on the edge of the Paraguay box and, although Carlos Bonet was shadowing him trying to stop the move from taking place, the ball only fell as far as Sheringham almost thirty yards from goal. An instinctive touch with the thigh brought the ball under his spell. "Go on, son," Hoddle muttered from the England bench, as Sheringham steadied himself.

The volley exploded off his right boot, dipping and swerving, and flew in with a brief kiss off Sylva's post. 3-0 England, game set and match and surely a contender for one of the goals of the tournament. With that, the game pretty much was all but over as a contest and the England team would end up show boating to their delighted supporters by passing the ball around to each other with the fans cheering every time a England player had the ball while jeering anytime a Paraguay player had the ball. The Three Lions did almost had a chance to add a fourth goal just five minutes from the end in which from a corner kick, Ferdinand got his head on the ball and tried to header it on for home, but instead it proved to be a rather poor effort from him as he instead ended up sending the ball right up into row 'Z'.

Though by this point, no one really cared at that point if the Three Lions were to go further in front as not long right after that the referee would blow his whistle to end the game for a rather comfortable 3-0 victory for England who now moved onto the Quarter-finals. As the English players celebrated with their delighted supporters, Hoddle now turned his attention for who their opponents might be in the next round. Did they have a chance to win the World Cup? It always seemed to be only thing most of the English pundits seemed to think about at every tournament England were at, though he did have to admit with the talent they had in this side did make him think that there maybe something possible with this side. They did get to the Semis at the last World Cup, so why not go one step further? All would depend who they would have to face next...

apr-2002-england-celebrate-a-goal-during-the-nationwide-international-picture-id72502543

Happy English players following their victory over Paraguay

---------
Just three days later after England had managed to get through, most British eyes turned towards the other remaining Home Nation left in the tournament over in Japan...Scotland. The Tartan Army would always get themselves around. From the early days when they would bring large numbers down to Wembley for the games with England, they had since then became a well travelled unit that had been to the European continent, right over to the Americas from as far as the United States right down to the south in Argentina. But even so, a trip the land of the rising sun was to be a first for many of them as the residents of the town of Rifu had most likely never seen quite the like of the Scots of their kilts and Saltire flags being hung up round every vantage point. So much, it seemed that they had even brought the rain with them and it gave the impression of a rainy March day in Glasgow.

Today would be Scotland's second round game with Turkey and with England already through to the last eight, many were hoping that the Scots would make it too, but there was that fear in going up against the Turks. Like the Scots, they had qualified for the World Cup via the play offs when they thrashed the Austrians 6-0, however that score line itself wasn't what that scared the Scots. The main worry many in the British media was the actions of Turkish supporters as the infamous night in Istanbul of the two Leeds United fans being stabbed to death was still fresh in the mind of many and while it was thought that the Scottish supporters weren't going to do anything to warrant a death, it didn't hurt for the Tartan Army to be on their guard.

Even before kick off, the good natured Scottish supporters were left quite stunned at the mass display of the Turkish fans showing how much they meant business and wanted to win despite the Scottish supporter seemed to outnumber the Turks by a good number. Despite any pre-match fears they might've had, Craig Brown's men headed onto the field with their dark blue shirts with white trim vertical lining on them while the Turks were to play in their alternate kit of White shirt and red shorts. Scotland wanted to be back in a Quarter final after so long and went right out of the gates trying to get at the Turks, but their opponents were by no means any pushover as they comfortably kept at waves of Scottish attacks in their half.

neil-mccann-scotland-glasgow-rangers-fc-hampden-park-glasgow-12-february-je3g2n.jpg

Neil McCann during the early part of the game with Turkey
A lot of pressing from Scotland would finally pay off with a corner kick in the twelve minute in which Neil McCann stepped up to take it in which he sent the ball curling into the box and Gary Holt attempted to header it in. Sadly for him the ball clattered off the cross bar and left the Turks to sigh in relief. Despite this it was looking good for Scotland as they had started off well and the Turks hadn't the time to get a style of play going in order to get forward and sneak in a goal, though for Scotland they knew they had to get something soon if all this pressure was to pay off. In the seventeenth minute, the Turks would make their first effort on target in which Davala would make an ambitious twenty-five yard volley from the goal that had it not been from the arms of Scotland's keeper, Robert Douglas, it could've gone into the left side of the net.

It was here now that Turkey were starting to find their footing in the game and the Scots were starting to curse their luck that all that hold of the ball was slowly starting to come all for nothing. In the twenty-first minute, Turkey would win a free kick near the edge of the box and once again the Turks nearly found themselves taking the lead had it not been for the help of the cross bar knocking it away. Scotland would go on the attack again in the twenty-eighth minute with captain Paul Lambert rushing forward down on the left Turkish flank and crossing it over towards Michael Stewart who found himself being marked by two Turkish players and quickly pulled off a back pass towards Steven Thompson who quickly went on the run towards the box, with the Turkish backline utterly confused, and when he reached near the box he let his shot fly and the ball went curling towards the left of the goal and had given Scotland a lead at last in the game.

It had been a matter of time until the Scots would score, question was now would they get anymore? As the Tartan Army celebrated taking the lead, it seemed that they could relax and things were going to go well for them, but any Scotsman seemed to foolishly underestimate the men in white and red. Turkey responded almost quickly when Hasan Şaş, in the thirty-second minute, tried as he liked to flash a shot wide of the Scottish goal that made Robert Douglas to scramble across his line. Apart from that attempt, Scotland were otherwise unruffled and spent most of the time trying to frustrate the Turks and the closing minutes of the first half would see Turkey get a few bookings for some dangerous challenges on the men in dark blue.

football-fifa-world-cup-finals-miyagi-japan-18th-june-2002-japan-0-v-picture-id78973517

Davala for Turkey trying to help his country get something in the game with Scotland

Then before anyone knew it, the whistle for the first half blew and Craig Brown's men trotted off towards the tunnel, however as they were leaving, several of the Scottish players were shocked to see one angry looking Turkish fan standing over by the tunnel mouth above them and began gesturing to them having his finger go across his neck. It didn't take much for that moment for the players to feel unsettled seeing that and the thoughts of the events regarding those two Leeds United fans would have no doubt gone through the heads of the Scotland players. Craig Brown himself would admit himself years later that seeing that did make him uneasy too and so the Scotland manager would have to spend more time to calm his players rather than talk about the game plan for the second half. It could be one of those days...

---------
By the time the second half had started, the rain had started chucking it down and even by the time the players emerged from the tunnel for the second half to begin, the field felt more like a bog in some public park that would have been rather familiar for many pitches around Scotland. The Scottish fans up on the terraces on the other hand didn't seemed to mind, mainly as they were winning the game but amusingly many of them had stripped off their tops and were enjoying a good soaking. How the local Japanese population had to react to this behaviour is anyone's guess. As the second half began, the game was quite an edgy one with no one wanting to make a wrong move that might decide the game. It was clear now that the next goal would be the deciding one, but who would it be?

It was however noted that here the Scottish style of play wasn't going down well with the Italian referee due to them now making some rough challenges and as such, Neil McCann would find himself in the book with a booking in the fifty-third minute and this would allow Turkey to be awarded a free kick deep inside the Scottish half. It was quite a tense affair as the ball came close but Lambert had to clear it away with his head though it only meant that Turkey would be awarded a corner kick, this time thankfully one that was caught easily by Douglas. Nonetheless, Scotland were starting to live rather dangerously and that slender lead wasn't doing anyone favours and the Tartan Army were starting to feel it too.

_103885515_767061.jpg

Captain Paul Lambert leading Scotland during the second half

The Second half really didn't look promising for the Scots as Turkey were the ones asking questions, but that would all change in strangely fitting sixty-eighth minute. Steven Thompson attempted to try and snatch a goal out of nothing as he went running on the counter after a lapse of concentration from the Turkish defence. A long, angled ball from him found it's way to Kevin Kyle in the box, but the pass was marginally under-hit. Gary Holt ran over on the wing to try and catch the miss hit ball and lobbed it back to Thompson. With him near the box and hitting a half-volley, with the Turkish keeper desperately throwing himself into an attempted block, Thompson's shot smashed past the keeper's outstretched right hand and into the billowing net.

Game over, Turkey. As Thompson celebrated the goal that was surely the one that booked Scotland into the Quarter finals, the bitterly disappointed Turkish players just didn't know what to do, after all the promising work they had put into the second half had all but come for nothing. So much so that other than an odd cross and corner, Turkey never really got over that sucker punch of a second goal and the Tartan Army happily sang in the Japanese rain as the clock slowly ran down and not caring a jot that they were getting utterly soaked. The game from that second goal onwards did become rather flat, but it would also would see the first World Cup appearance of one Scottish player.

Right on the eighty-sixth minute and with Scotland now looking fairly comfortable with the Turks looking to have all but given up the ghost, Thompson would be brought off and taking his place up front would be a young unknown talent by the name of James McFadden. After a fairly flat last few minutes, the referee blew his whistle to end the game and Turkey had been defeated 2-0 and Scotland were on their way to Osaka for the Quarter-Finals for the first time since 1994. Craig Brown was delighted that for the first time since Euro '96 that he had won a knockout game of football at a major tournament though thoughts about his own future did play on his mind. For now though, the two auld enemies were in the last eight and who knows just what was to follow...?

---------
Alright then, another update and a bit of mix up in which while the game with Scotland remains the same from the old TL with some various wee tweaks to it, the England game is very different here but hopefully you all enjoy it nonetheless. So anyway, here are the fixture lists for the Quarter-Finals:
--------
England vs United States

Spain vs South Korea

Argentina vs Brazil

Scotland vs Senegal
--------
So who will get through and why? You know the routine, going to be fun to see a very different looking 2002 WC compared to the old TL and before anyone says anything, yes, that dodgy game between Italy and South Korea still happens much like with OTL so expect to see more strange results to happen. Anyway how will England and Scotland get on in the next update? Finds out next time! :)
 
England to beat the US the same way as Germany IOTL.
Spain vs South Korea same dodgy game as OTL.
Argentina beat Brazil on golden goal.
Scotland very narrowly and fortuitously beat Senegal. (Or underestimate them and get caught out by them, which is what would happen IOTL!)
 
I can't tell you enough how happy I am with Scotland so far, they've reached the quarterfinals! Hell, even if they lose, Senegal would go into the semifinals! (It reminds me a lot of the recent Ukraine game.) I was born on October 2nd of 2002, meaning my Scottish dad and American mom (With scottish ancestors) were watching the World Cup while I was inside her belly. Shame Scotland didn't make it in. I can tell you Dad would be jumping for joy right now. YES SIR WE KIN BOOGIE!
 
Chapter 71: Something Expected And Something NOT Expected
Chapter 71
Something Expected And Something NOT Expected

When it came round for the Quarter-finals, most in England couldn't actually believe their luck in which they had found themselves on what was quite a soft path to the final in which standing in their way to the last four was none other than surprise package the United States though this wasn't the first time the two sides had faced each other at a World Cup. The game in question would be that certain infamous game in 1950 in which a heavily fancied England team were stunned into a defeat by what was an amateur American team that would ultimately send the English crashing out in embarrassing circumstances in what would be the country's most humiliating result and the United State's greatest. Since then of course the English would learn and would win some silverware over the next few decades and now boast perhaps the most viewed football league on the face of the planet though it must be said that the United States were going to be far from being easy despite what many in the English media might had stated (the US Woman's Soccer team was indeed a force almost unrivalled by anyone else in the world it must be said).

Despite being thought not really as a football (or rather soccer) nation in the eyes of many, the United States had certainly made quite an impact in this World Cup. They had shocked everyone by seeing off Portugal in the group stage and perhaps most happily for most Americans was their dispatching of their arch rivals, Mexico, in the second round. It had been a great atmosphere around the Korean city of Ulsan as both sets of supporters happily mingled with each other and were most likely happy to be able to speak English to each other unlike other opponents, though many Americans would be taken about by the many accents that much of the English support being that of either cockney, Geordie, Brummie and Yorkshire just to name a few.

Even without thinking about winning the World Cup, some of the English supporters knew that with the way they had been set up in one half of the knockout stage draw, the Scots just so happen to be in the other side of the draw and the most amazing situation was possible in which if they were to both win all their knockout games from this point on then both England and Scotland would meet in the final in what would be a true mouth-watering scenario. However in the meantime, the main focus for England was to simply get past the Americans and move on to the next round; surely all something many expected, right?

closer-look-nike-2002-world-cup-kit-template%2B%25282%2529.jpg

The United States team prior to kick off against England
While it must be noted that there wasn't really any rivalry the two sides in a football sense (unless you were American who would talk endlessly about that game in 1950) that didn't mean to say that hype would always be built up for non-footballing reasons with perhaps it being felt more for the Americans who seemed to bring up the American wars of independence, the special relationship and the English having bad teeth just to name a few; then again the English might have done something similar bringing up the Germans such as tasteless tales of WWII and all that so no real difference there. To add more to this all English speaking affair, the referee for this game, Hugh Dallas, was Scottish which for some in the American press brought up fears of possible collusion between the English and the Scots which was rather ironic considering the historic rivalry between the two though given some of the very questionable refereeing that had happened in this World Cup so far, not exactly unreasonable fears to have...

It was quite a warm evening as both sets of fans created a great atmosphere as the players emerged from the tunnel and onto the field and it was here that both anthems were sung with pride which would be one of the most memorable moments of the 2002 World Cup, but in some ways it was a game that mattered more for the Americans. With a country that was still reeling from the horrors of 9/11 that had also shocked the world, this unexpected postive World Cup run was giving the team and the country as a whole a very welcomed feel good factor and even Glen Hoddle would admit to saying that it was a shame that fate had drawn them together stating that had this not been the case then the United States would have been Hoddle's dark horse team. From the start of the game it was the blue shirted Americans that started off the better team here.

England totally seemed to underestimate the American's fighting spirit and it was the Americans who came close to scoring first in both the ninth and twelve minute of the game thanks to the attempts of the United States' Lando Donavan and it was only thanks to the hands of David Seaman that kept England from going 2-0 down already. To say the English backline was looking utterly shambolic would be an understatement and Glen Hoddle could be seen barking angrily at the his players to wake up and get going forward, anyone who were thought confidently that England were going to steamroll over the plucky Americans were now starting to feel like they were about to find themselves with egg on their faces.

bbecabfe27de2948f1719fabe7ec00d2.png

Ferdinand during the early moments of the game with the United States

The Three Lions first good attempt came in the nineteenth minute when they won a throw in with Nicky Butt being the one to throw it in towards the box and Beckham attempted to header it in, but only found his shot saved by Brad Friedel and the English players now all bore the expression of frustration that the game should've have been going the way like this, they should be beating this bunch. England did get another chance which arguably was a glorious one in which Emile Heskey raced on the counter and weaved his way in and out of several American players before he cross the ball into the box for Michael Owen to strike on the volley, however his kick was too hard and the ball ended up flying way up and over the bar. Nonetheless, the good news was that now the Americans were starting to look tired and England were starting to get back into the game, surely they would score first? And they most certainly did.

In the twenty-seventh minute, after a good period of England looking comfortable on the ball, Beckham would let the ball loose for Owen to get forward he sprinted across the field until he reached outside of the box and let one fly as the ball smashed into the roof of the right side of the net where the ball found itself lost in the netting. At last, England were up and running and they had finally gotten the lead many thought they would, even though they had done it the hard way, but no one honestly cared and the delighted English supporters in the stadium, a good ten thousand no less, now expected to see more goals follow up. For any team going behind, many would assume the same would happen to the United States to see them roll over.

But this was an American team that you wouldn't want to write off as they kept pushing forward for an equaliser and they almost did find it in the thirty-sixth minute when the Americans won a free kick some twenty-five yards away from goal and Eddie Lewis went up to take it. His shot went curly into the top left corner of the net and looked to be going in had Seaman not acted to knock it away in the nick of time. It would've been one hell of a way to get back into the game, nonetheless for the nervous American supporters there, it did give them hope that all was not loss and if they could carry on playing like this, then they would have a decent chance. In the forty-first minute, there would be a double booking for England's Heskey and United States' Eddie Pope after the latter made a woefully badly timed challenged that saw him getting booked by the Scottish referee, Andrew Dallas. But Heskey himself would see yellow after he lost his head for a moment as he started shoving Eddie Pope out of anger for the challenge.

landon-donovan-during-the-world-cup-quarter-final-match-between-and-picture-id941764222

Donovan during the game with England
This would see both captains trying to calm both players down and the referee tried to keep the game rolling and hope for no more dangerous challenges, though with the look Heskey and Pope glaring at each other, that would be wishful thinking. This tasty game's first half would end when during the second minute of added time when the USA were trying to hold the ball for as much as they could to keep the game down at 1-0, the ball had been past to the captain Claudio Reyna but in one of perhaps the most embarrassing moments of the World Cup, he slipped when trying to get the ball and as Paul Scholes was nearby and saw the ball loose, he didn't waste the chance to make something of it and he quickly charged forward with the ball towards the American penalty box in which several American players tried to stop him but failed as he then quickly lobbed the ball into the penalty box in which Ferdinand would header the ball right into the bottom left of the net. 2-0 for England.

It was a hammer blow for the Americans for that goal utterly seemed to ruin any plans they had for the second half with them now having a mountain to climb and in all honesty, the score didn't reflect how the game had gone for the United States had actually up until the later part of the half had really tested England. Before long, the referee blew for half time and the American players would walk off looking rather flustered and downhearted over what had happened, mostly Reyna who was feeling guilty over what had happened with that slip of his and wonder if he hadn't slipped then maybe there was still a chance. As it did stand, the United States faced a real daunting challenge of trying to over turn a 2-0 deficit...

----------
When 2-0 down, many might have suspected that this the point in which the United States would end up playing damage control just to make sure that the result wouldn't look worse for them, however as what things had happened so far, the Americans don't always follow the script. The United States instead felt as though that they had nothing to lose and would be fearless in trying to find anything in the game to find a foothold Despite being two goals behind, the Americans didn't feel that bad as they had played well in the first half up until those two sucker punches of goals and if they kept pressing, then they might have a good chance and it wasn't a crazy idea in which England did start to look rather flustered at the back there.

2002-Sol-Campbell-celebrates-after-scoring-for-England-against-Sweden-in-the-2002-World-Cup-Rio-Ferdinand-gives-chase.jpg

England players after the goal that puts them 2-0 up
What no one expected was a moment that would become one of the many, many bad calls during this World Cup. In the fifty-second minute, England were up to defend a corner and ball came down near the feet of Brian McBride and he went to try and make a shot at target in which David Seaman went diving to try and get it, it went under him but still clipped him and the ball went up into the air towards Ashley Cole who was standing on the goal line, and he had the bad luck on not being able to react in time as the ball hit his arm and this saw the blue shirted American players on the field to raise their arms up and cry for a penalty...in which to the shock of many who had been able to see the handball take place, no penalty given!

There confusing and anger among Americans over why it was not given and from many replays it should have been given, it was just the bad luck that neither the referee or the assistant staff saw the incident happen and as of a result, the game would carry on despite many thinking that something should have been given and the American fears of collusion seemed to become to become a reality. After that moment, any momentum that the United States had seemed to fizzle out and even though the English would not score anymore goals but neither did the Americans and after what would end up being a rather uneventful second half for the most part, England would of course come out as 2-0 winners and move onward for the last four though it must be said the Untied States were far from a easy team to play against.

While the English fans would make the most with some even saying it was long awaited revenge for 1950, the Americans felt a sense of injustice over that penalty that should have been given and if it had been given then it was possible that it might have spurred them to not only get back into the game but turn it around. For many soccer fans in the United States, the memories of the 2002 team are a warm one with many suspecting that the team was that good, perhaps the best side the US ever had, could have gone on and reach the final but were sadly undone by some poor refereeing choices. It's hard to figure out if this would start a rivalry between the two sides over this game but for now, the Three Lions were on their way to another World Cup Semi-Final...

England-v-Sweden-A-packed-to-the-doorways-pub-the-Warehouse-where-customers-watched-the-world-cup.jpg

Somewhere in England, a pub watches on during the game with the USA

---------
A day after the English had made it to the last four, Scotland were hoping to be joining their arch rivals in the semis and if so, the prospect for an all British final for this year seemed to look like quite a more likely situation as it just so happened, Scotland found themselves against, on paper, at least a soft team to take care of in the form of Senegal, Africa's last remaining team. Rather arrogantly, many in Scotland had figured out that Senegal meant nothing more than a bye to the last four though for those who had thought of this were being ignorant of what Senegal had done so. Follow their shock victory over a shambolic French side (who would crash out with no wins to their name) and made it to the knockout stage in which they would cause a further shock by dispatching the Swedes via golden goal and now here they were for a chance to become the first African side to reach the last four.

With all this in mind, Senegal had become the world's favourite team and now had perhaps had a whole African continent behind them, Scotland would have for once to play the pantomime villains which was a very strange set of circumstances considering that for the most part, Scotland would often be a neutral choice around the world. However while many should have been wondering how the team was going to perform, the talks were instead regarding Craig Brown himself. With his contract not renewed yet, many in the Scottish media were putting two and two together suspecting that Craig Brown was going to leave the Scotland job after this World Cup in which considering how long he had been in the job for, the longest serving Scotland manager by this point, it did seem like it would be the time to leave.

Brown was of course rather annoyed by this question that seemed to follow him from the moment the team had landed in Japan and simply replied with that he would make his choice after the World Cup was over; he had more important factors to worry about. He knew that Senegal were, much like what the English had discovered with the United States, a team that was far from being a push over and that this game had all the key ingredients for Scotland for this to become a banana slip for them and interestingly enough was that while this wasn't the first time Scotland had faced an African team at the World Cup, it would be the first time that they would be playing an African team in the knockout stages so it was for Scotland a little piece of history for them too.

team-senegal-lineup-during-the-world-cup-match-between-france-and-in-picture-id892240236
The Senegal team before their game with Scotland

Upon handshakes between Lambert and Cissé, the game would begin and from the start, Senegal were living up to their hype of being the team that was being talked up about as they punted the ball around the field in which the poor Scots couldn't get a foot on the ball and when they did thanks to Gary Naysmith finding a loose ball, he failed to control and saw the ball come off his foot to go out for a Senegal throw in. The first eight minutes of the game were pretty much all Senegal as they showed how actually good a team they were as they pressed up the field to get the opening goal and Scotland had pretty much failed to turn up by this point, though the Scots would get one lucky moment in the tenth minute when Omar Daf had a rather embarrassing slip and this saw Paul Lambert collect the ball and lob it over towards Barry Fergusson who made a dash down the centre field to the cries of the Tartan Army encouraging to keep going as several Senegalese players went after him.

He crossed it over towards Gary Naysmith who had been positioned just outside of the box on the right and looked set to score at Tony Sylva's goal in which he did. However the cries of joy turned to cries of groans as despite Sylva going the wrong way, the ball would bounce off his foot and spiral up into the air before landing on top of the goal which would award Scotland a corner kick. It would get tense for England there as while in the box, Paul Lambert headed the ball at point blank range at the goal, though somehow, Sylva would deny the Scots once again with a save he managed to somehow get both hands on as he dived into the bottom corner to get it. After all the domination on the field from Senegal, it had been the Scots in a few mad moments that had come close to taking the lead from against the run of play. A goal was certainly coming, though it wasn't all assured that Senegal would be scoring first.

El Hadji Diouf would attempt to go on the volley for Senegal in the seventeenth minute in which as impressive as it was from thirty yards out, the ball crashed off the bar and curled up skywards to go out for a corner for the Africans, but the game was starting to be come an unlikely end-to-end contest with the Scots through their sheer determination to try and match the Senegalese in what was quite a classic end to end game. As he watched the game from the bench, Craig Brown had the look of a man who just had a sense of foreboding that something was about to happen to Scotland and not for the best of reasons as in the twenty-third minute, Stevie Crawford from a Scottish corner attempted to try and swing the ball in with a one footed volley, though he fired over the bar into a section of delighted Senegal supporters, so close were the margins in this game, though a cynic would argue that both team's defences were woeful and that it wouldn't be surprising to see a shower of goals in this game.

gary-naysmith-of-scotland-charges-forward-during-the-uefa-european-picture-id2085279

Naysmith during the game with Senegal
The Scots thought didn't give up and from kick off, they went on the attack once again, though it would be one of their players, Barry Fergusson, who would get the first booking of the game after he kept running with the ball after the referee blew for offside in which Fergusson pointed to his ear trying to indicate to the Columbian referee that he didn't hear the whistle blow. Nonetheless Scotland were matching Senegal now even with the score still at 0-0 and in the thirty-fourth minute, Christian Dailly would go on a solo run up through the lapse English defence and try and fire from outside the 'D', but Seaman would have no trouble in catching the ball and once again, another Scottish attempt fell short. Though the bright side was that Scotland were very much in this game.

A slight tweak in Scotland's formation thanks to Brown shouting orders for what to do, requested the team to play a 4-3-3 to try and get as much attacking power up front as possible if they were to try and break the deadlock in the closing stages of the first half. Wherever or not the tactics were making a difference for Scotland, Senegal did look rather cumbersome almost if they had expected the Scots to fall apart after that opening goal and the Scots sensed blood in the water and decided to go in for the kill. Senegal did make a few bad tackles with Cissé getting booked in the forty-first minute when he barged Steven Thompson off the field and Diouf would follow with 3 minutes of injury time about to start, for a hopelessly timed challenged on Stevie Crawford in which this would lead Scotland getting a free kick from some twenty yards away from the box.

Crawford would have to wait a while as the referee tried to keep the players in the box to stop shoving each other as Senegal wanted to keep a clean sheet to go in at half time while Scotland badly wanted a goal. It would be the second minute of injury time when the referee blew his whistle to give Crawford the all clear to take his free kick in which he sent it up and over the Senegal wall and the ball came curling down towards the goal however it would be Sylva could come to rescue of Senegal who would get his hands on the ball with what was in all honestly one of the best saves at this World Cup and thus that that would be the final action of the first half in which the game would still remain at 0-0. As the teams went in for half time, it was hard to tell who was the more happier of the two teams and who would be the one to come out on top...

diop.jpg

Diop during the game with Scotland

--------
The second half itself would in contrast to a rather dominate performance from Senegal would be a rather cautious one for both teams, almost if the weight of history of what it meant for both sides for reaching the last four was weighing down on them. However it wouldn't be until just seven minutes later after the start of the second half that Scotland were the one who was starting to look the more confident team and starting to cause problems on the Senegalese flanks and it would be in the fifty-ninth minute in which Don Hutchison came rushing into the box but it was here that Ferdinand Coly would make a challenge on the Scotland player but he'd time it poorly and instead send Hutchison tumbling into the box and the referee would his whistle and point to the spot...penalty for Scotland!

There were no complaints about that choice from the referee and Coly would be booked for his troubles and Kenny Miller would be the one to step up and take it and many thousands of miles away, many in Scotland held their breath and prayed that he would put Scotland into the lead in this Quarter-Final tie. The referee blew his whistle and Miller sent the ball into the bottom left...and Sylva saved it! In both Scotland and Senegal, the population in both of those countries had reactions of despair and joy over what had happened and not only had Senegal had been let off the hook there, the Scots now felt that this was perhaps a moment that would turn this game on its head and from that miss, that was the case in which the penalty miss pretty much caused Senegal to go in for the attack; the Scots just looked frazzled after that miss.

The game was really hard to call for at one point, Scotland looked in control and now Senegal who were the ones who seemed to have peaked at just the right moment for them to go out and win the game for themselves. It didn't get any better for the Scots who now had to try and find a way to find their footing in the game but worse was to follow however in which in the sixty-ninth minute, a frustrated Barry Fergusson made a stupid tackle on Aliou Cissé that was badly timed and the Senegalese supporters screamed for action from the referee. It was duly delivered when the referee ran up to the Scottish player to show him a second yellow card and then pull out a red card to give Fergusson his marching orders down the tunnel.

craig-brown-scotland-manager-01-april-1999-HTBBY9.jpg

A stunned Craig Brown following the sending off
By now, Senegal now had Scotland on the ropes and any plans that the Scots might've had to win the game had gone off the rails and the Tartan Army in Osaka couldn't even bare to look as even though the game was still at 0-0, the reaction from the Scotland fans might have said that they were losing or were about it at any point. Amazingly though despite Senegal pushing Scotland to brink and with several more yellow cards taking place with Scotland looking ever more likely to go down to nine men at any point due to their plans falling to pieces, they actually managed to hold to full time with the game still deadlocked at 0-0 though it had been an utter horror show for the Tartan Army and it could have all been so different if Miller (who himself had gotten booked towards the end of the ninety minutes following a frustrating challenge on a Senegalese player) had simply scored that penalty then Scotland might have been in the last four...

The game would now go to extra time and to make the game more tense, it would be decided by golden goal; one shot and you're out. Senegal knew that they could do this and the ten men of Scotland looked tired and Craig Brown was trying desperately to tell his players what to do for extra-time. Right from the off, Scotland mentally looked like a team that was defeated and Senegal sense this and pretty much had Scotland trapped in their own half for the first five minutes of extra time and it would be in the ninety-seventh minute that Senegal would win a corner and what would happen next would pretty much be a well remembered moment for that World Cup though not for what one would think.

The ball would be swung into the box and Diouf would get a head on it and aim it at the goal, however Scotland keeper Rab Douglas would punch the ball away but not far enough as the ball ended up hitting Paul Lambert on the leg and the ball ended up heading towards an unguarded net in which despite a despite attempt to kick it away by David Weir, it was too late and the ball bundled its way into the goal and a deafening roar from the Senegal fans followed...Senegal had scored the golden goal and would become the first African team to reach the last four of the World Cup! It was the result that perhaps the rest of the world wanted though what some failed to notice in that moment was that Scotland, or Lambert in the case, had almost made a piece of unwanted World Cup history in which Lambert had become the first player in history to score an own golden goal if that was ever possible. Only to Scotland could this ever happen to.

bcc0fef1-ef84-49de-8927-d6d8f2ff87c9
Senegal players celebrate after becoming the first African team in history to reach the last four of the World Cup
While the Senegalese would bask in the moment of history and the plaudits that came their way, for Scotland however it was an utter disaster and the banana skin that some, including Craig Brown had felt the game could become, had indeed become a reality and the own goal golden goal would go down as a mark of infamy for many Scotland fans over the years with poor Lambert being almost hated by nearly every Scottish person whenever he played football with the exception of the Celtic fans in which he played with and Lambert would admit years later in which that moment still gives him nightmares to this day. There was one other sad bit of news for Scotland for it indeed marked the end of a era.

Shortly after a post press match conference with a seething Scottish media, Craig Brown would make the sensible choice of stepping down from the Scotland job, an announcement that wasn't exactly greeted with indifference from the Tartan Army but rather more of a case getting him pushed out of the door with him being partly to blame in the eyes of many of the Senegal loss, hard to imagine that for a man that had nearly won a trophy for Scotland had now ended on a whimper. However in the following years, Craig Brown would be looked on fondly for his time as Scotland manager as the man who took Scotland to a final and manged to qualify for every tournament under his watch which was quite impressive for other Scotland managers it must be said.

For now though, the shell-shocked Tartan Army would now make the long journey home and the question now was who was to be the new Scotland manager would be. There would now be just one Home Nation left and it was looking to be quite an open tournament in many ways...

---------
And so here we are, the Quarter-finals; some you expected and somethings you didn't quite expect! So yeah, England beating the USA is pretty obvious though there is still that penalty incident which still happens though England do get a second goal here compared to OTL. However it is Senegal who make it to the last four and a first for any African team to get that far and even though I'm aware that many of you suspected Scotland would get through, I just had the feeling that even though Scotland ITTL would be far better than OTL, that's not to say that they would suffer from some pretty ludicrous results and a game with Senegal just seemed like one that in all honesty you could see happen.

Plus, if I had to do something so typically Scottish, they had just had to become the first team in the history of the World Cup to score an own golden goal; I'm a little surprised as why no one as done that for any other alternate football score TL which just seems so funny to me and yeah, poor Lambert ends up getting the OTL Beckham treatment here which TBH giving the circumstances you could see happening. The own goal here is actually pretty much the same as the own goal Scotland scored during their game with Brazil in 1998.

So yeah, with that done, now we move onto the final fixtures of this World Cup
---------
England vs South Korea

Argentina vs Senegal
---------
Yeah, Argentina beat Brazil here, the same 3-2 golden goal victory like in the old TL but anyway, who do you think will win and why plus how would you had remembered TTL World Cup? Until then, catch you later in the next update!
 
Last edited:
No objections to Scotland losing to Senegal, not even like that! I'm guessing, if Euro 2004 goes the same as your original TL, Lambert gets to do a Beckham-esque redemption on himself there!

Anyway, Argentina to finally beat Senegal in the semis. England vs South Korea goes the same as before, as does the resulting final. Senegal finish third, and, buoyed on by this, qualify for 2006 in lieu of Togo.
 
Chapter 71
Something Expected And Something NOT Expected

When it came round for the Quarter-finals, most in England couldn't actually believe their luck in which they had found themselves on what was quite a soft path to the final in which standing in their way to the last four was none other than surprise package the United States though this wasn't the first time the two sides had faced each other at a World Cup. The game in question would be that certain infamous game in 1950 in which a heavily fancied England team were stunned into a defeat by what was an amateur American team that would ultimately send the English crashing out in embarrassing circumstances in what would be the country's most humiliating result and the United State's greatest. Since then of course the English would learn and would win some silverware over the next few decades and now boast perhaps the most viewed football league on the face of the planet though it must be said that the United States were going to be far from being easy despite what many in the English media might had stated (the US Woman's Soccer team was indeed a force almost unrivalled by anyone else in the world it must be said).

Despite being thought not really as a football (or rather soccer) nation in the eyes of many, the United States had certainly made quite an impact in this World Cup. They had shocked everyone by seeing off Portugal in the group stage and perhaps most happily for most Americans was their dispatching of their arch rivals, Mexico, in the second round. It had been a great atmosphere around the Korean city of Ulsan as both sets of supporters happily mingled with each other and were most likely happy to be able to speak English to each other unlike other opponents, though many Americans would be taken about by the many accents that much of the English support being that of either cockney, Geordie, Brummie and Yorkshire just to name a few.

Even without thinking about winning the World Cup, some of the English supporters knew that with the way they had been set up in one half of the knockout stage draw, the Scots just so happen to be in the other side of the draw and the most amazing situation was possible in which if they were to both win all their knockout games from this point on then both England and Scotland would meet in the final in what would be a true mouth-watering scenario. However in the meantime, the main focus for England was to simply get past the Americans and move on to the next round; surely all something many expected, right?

closer-look-nike-2002-world-cup-kit-template%2B%25282%2529.jpg

The United States team prior to kick off against England
While it must be noted that there wasn't really any rivalry the two sides in a football sense (unless you were American who would talk endlessly about that game in 1950) that didn't mean to say that hype would always be built up for non-footballing reasons with perhaps it being felt more for the Americans who seemed to bring up the American wars of independence, the special relationship and the English having bad teeth just to name a few; then again the English might have done something similar bringing up the Germans such as tasteless tales of WWII and all that so no real difference there. To add more to this all English speaking affair, the referee for this game, Hugh Dallas, was Scottish which for some in the American press brought up fears of possible collusion between the English and the Scots which was rather ironic considering the historic rivalry between the two though given some of the very questionable refereeing that had happened in this World Cup so far, not exactly unreasonable fears to have...

It was quite a warm evening as both sets of fans created a great atmosphere as the players emerged from the tunnel and onto the field and it was here that both anthems were sung with pride which would be one of the most memorable moments of the 2002 World Cup, but in some ways it was a game that mattered more for the Americans. With a country that was still reeling from the horrors of 9/11 that had also shocked the world, this unexpected postive World Cup run was giving the team and the country as a whole a very welcomed feel good factor and even Glen Hoddle would admit to saying that it was a shame that fate had drawn them together stating that had this not been the case then the United States would have been Hoddle's dark horse team. From the start of the game it was the blue shirted Americans that started off the better team here.

England totally seemed to underestimate the American's fighting spirit and it was the Americans who came close to scoring first in both the ninth and twelve minute of the game thanks to the attempts of the United States' Lando Donavan and it was only thanks to the hands of David Seaman that kept England from going 2-0 down already. To say the English backline was looking utterly shambolic would be an understatement and Glen Hoddle could be seen barking angrily at the his players to wake up and get going forward, anyone who were thought confidently that England were going to steamroll over the plucky Americans were now starting to feel like they were about to find themselves with egg on their faces.

bbecabfe27de2948f1719fabe7ec00d2.png

Ferdinand during the early moments of the game with the United States

The Three Lions first good attempt came in the nineteenth minute when they won a throw in with Nicky Butt being the one to throw it in towards the box and Beckham attempted to header it in, but only found his shot saved by Brad Friedel and the English players now all bore the expression of frustration that the game should've have been going the way like this, they should be beating this bunch. Wales did get another chance which arguably was a glorious one in which Emile Heskey raced on the counter and weaved his way in and out of several American players before he cross the ball into the box for Michael Owen to strike on the volley, however his kick was too hard and the ball ended up flying way up and over the bar. Nonetheless, the good news was that now the Americans were starting to look tired and England were starting to get back into the game, surely they would score first? And they most certainly did.

In the twenty-seventh minute, after a good period of Wales looking comfortable on the ball, Beckham would let the ball loose for Owen to get forward he sprinted across the field until he reached outside of the box and let one fly as the ball smashed into the roof of the right side of the net where the ball found itself lost in the netting. At last, England were up and running and they had finally gotten the lead many thought they would, even though they had done it the hard way, but no one honestly cared and the delighted English supporters in the stadium, a good ten thousand no less, now expected to see more goals follow up. For any team going behind, many would assume the same would happen to the United States to see them roll over.

But this was an American team that you wouldn't want to write off as they kept pushing forward for an equaliser and they almost did find it in the thirty-sixth minute when the Americans won a free kick some twenty-five yards away from goal and Eddie Lewis went up to take it. His shot went curly into the top left corner of the net and looked to be going in had Seaman not acted to knock it away in the nick of time. It would've been one hell of a way to get back into the game, nonetheless for the nervous American supporters there, it did give them hope that all was not loss and if they could carry on playing like this, then they would have a decent chance. In the forty-first minute, there would be a double booking for England's Heskey and United States' Eddie Pope after the latter made a woefully badly timed challenged that saw him getting booked by the Scottish referee, Andrew Dallas. But Heskey himself would see yellow after he lost his head for a moment as he started shoving Eddie Pope out of anger for the challenge.

landon-donovan-during-the-world-cup-quarter-final-match-between-and-picture-id941764222

Donovan during the game with England
This would see both captains trying to calm both players down and the referee tried to keep the game rolling and hope for no more dangerous challenges, though with the look Heskey and Pope glaring at each other, that would be wishful thinking. This tasty game's first half would end when during the second minute of added time when the USA were trying to hold the ball for as much as they could to keep the game down at 1-0, the ball had been past to the captain Claudio Reyna but in one of perhaps the most embarrassing moments of the World Cup, he slipped when trying to get the ball and as Paul Scholes was nearby and saw the ball loose, he didn't waste the chance to make something of it and he quickly charged forward with the ball towards the American penalty box in which several American players tried to stop him but failed as he then quickly lobbed the ball into the penalty box in which Ferdinand would header the ball right into the bottom left of the net. 2-0 for England.

It was a hammer blow for the Americans for that goal utterly seemed to ruin any plans they had for the second half with them now having a mountain to climb and in all honesty, the score didn't reflect how the game had gone for the United States had actually up until the later part of the half had really tested England. Before long, the referee blew for half time and the American players would walk off looking rather flustered and downhearted over what had happened, mostly Reyna who was feeling guilty over what had happened with that slip of his and wonder if he hadn't slipped then maybe there was still a chance. As it did stand, the United States faced a real daunting challenge of trying to over turn a 2-0 deficit...

----------
When 2-0 down, many might have suspected that this the point in which the United States would end up playing damage control just to make sure that the result wouldn't look worse for them, however as what things had happened so far, the Americans don't always follow the script. The United States instead felt as though that they had nothing to lose and would be fearless in trying to find anything in the game to find a foothold Despite being two goals behind, the Americans didn't feel that bad as they had played well in the first half up until those two sucker punches of goals and if they kept pressing, then they might have a good chance and it wasn't a crazy idea in which England did start to look rather flustered at the back there.

2002-Sol-Campbell-celebrates-after-scoring-for-England-against-Sweden-in-the-2002-World-Cup-Rio-Ferdinand-gives-chase.jpg

England players after the goal that puts them 2-0 up
What no one expected was a moment that would become one of the many, many bad calls during this World Cup. In the fifty-second minute, England were up to defend a corner and ball came down near the feet of Brian McBride and he went to try and make a shot at target in which David Seaman went diving to try and get it, it went under him but still clipped him and the ball went up into the air towards Ashley Cole who was standing on the goal line, and he had the bad luck on not being able to react in time as the ball hit his arm and this saw the blue shirted American players on the field to raise their arms up and cry for a penalty...in which to the shock of many who had been able to see the handball take place, no penalty given!

There confusing and anger among Americans over why it was not given and from many replays it should have been given, it was just the bad luck that neither the referee or the assistant staff saw the incident happen and as of a result, the game would carry on despite many thinking that something should have been given and the American fears of collusion seemed to become to become a reality. After that moment, any momentum that the United States had seemed to fizzle out and even though the English would not score anymore goals but neither did the Americans and after what would end up being a rather uneventful second half for the most part, England would of course come out as 2-0 winners and move onward for the last four though it must be said the Untied States were far from a easy team to play against.

While the English fans would make the most with some even saying it was long awaited revenge for 1950, the Americans felt a sense of injustice over that penalty that should have been given and if it had been given then it was possible that it might have spurred them to not only get back into the game but turn it around. For many soccer fans in the United States, the memories of the 2002 team are a warm one with many suspecting that the team was that good, perhaps the best side the US ever had, could have gone on and reach the final but were sadly undone by some poor refereeing choices. It's hard to figure out if this would start a rivalry between the two sides over this game but for now, the Three Lions were on their way to another World Cup Semi-Final...

England-v-Sweden-A-packed-to-the-doorways-pub-the-Warehouse-where-customers-watched-the-world-cup.jpg

Somewhere in England, a pub watches on during the game with the USA

---------
A day after the English had made it to the last four, Scotland were hoping to be joining their arch rivals in the semis and if so, the prospect for an all British final for this year seemed to look like quite a more likely situation as it just so happened, Scotland found themselves against, on paper, at least a soft team to take care of in the form of Senegal, Africa's last remaining team. Rather arrogantly, many in Scotland had figured out that Senegal meant nothing more than a bye to the last four though for those who had thought of this were being ignorant of what Senegal had done so. Follow their shock victory over a shambolic French side (who would crash out with no wins to their name) and made it to the knockout stage in which they would cause a further shock by dispatching the Swedes via golden goal and now here they were for a chance to become the first African side to reach the last four.

With all this in mind, Senegal had become the world's favourite team and now had perhaps had a whole African continent behind them, Scotland would have for once to play the pantomime villains which was a very strange set of circumstances considering that for the most part, Scotland would often be a neutral choice around the world. However while many should have been wondering how the team was going to perform, the talks were instead regarding Craig Brown himself. With his contract not renewed yet, many in the Scottish media were putting two and two together suspecting that Craig Brown was going to leave the Scotland job after this World Cup in which considering how long he had been in the job for, the longest serving Scotland manager by this point, it did seem like it would be the time to leave.

Brown was of course rather annoyed by this question that seemed to follow him from the moment the team had landed in Japan and simply replied with that he would make his choice after the World Cup was over; he had more important factors to worry about. He knew that Senegal were, much like what the English had discovered with the United States, a team that was far from being a push over and that this game had all the key ingredients for Scotland for this to become a banana slip for them and interestingly enough was that while this wasn't the first time Scotland had faced an African team at the World Cup, it would be the first time that they would be playing an African team in the knockout stages so it was for Scotland a little piece of history for them too.

team-senegal-lineup-during-the-world-cup-match-between-france-and-in-picture-id892240236
The Senegal team before their game with Scotland

Upon handshakes between Lambert and Cissé, the game would begin and from the start, Senegal were living up to their hype of being the team that was being talked up about as they punted the ball around the field in which the poor Scots couldn't get a foot on the ball and when they did thanks to Gary Naysmith finding a loose ball, he failed to control and saw the ball come off his foot to go out for a Senegal throw in. The first eight minutes of the game were pretty much all Senegal as they showed how actually good a team they were as they pressed up the field to get the opening goal and Scotland had pretty much failed to turn up by this point, though the Scots would get one lucky moment in the tenth minute when Omar Daf had a rather embarrassing slip and this saw Paul Lambert collect the ball and lob it over towards Barry Fergusson who made a dash down the centre field to the cries of the Tartan Army encouraging to keep going as several Senegalese players went after him.

He crossed it over towards Gary Naysmith who had been positioned just outside of the box on the right and looked set to score at Tony Sylva's goal in which he did. However the cries of joy turned to cries of groans as despite Sylva going the wrong way, the ball would bounce off his foot and spiral up into the air before landing on top of the goal which would award Scotland a corner kick. It would get tense for England there as while in the box, Paul Lambert headed the ball at point blank range at the goal, though somehow, Sylva would deny the Scots once again with a save he managed to somehow get both hands on as he dived into the bottom corner to get it. After all the domination on the field from Senegal, it had been the Scots in a few mad moments that had come close to taking the lead from against the run of play. A goal was certainly coming, though it wasn't all assured that Senegal would be scoring first.

El Hadji Diouf would attempt to go on the volley for Senegal in the seventeenth minute in which as impressive as it was from thirty yards out, the ball crashed off the bar and curled up skywards to go out for a corner for the Africans, but the game was starting to be come an unlikely end-to-end contest with the Scots through their sheer determination to try and match the Senegalese in what was quite a classic end to end game. As he watched the game from the bench, Craig Brown had the look of a man who just had a sense of foreboding that something was about to happen to Scotland and not for the best of reasons as in the twenty-third minute, Stevie Crawford from a Scottish corner attempted to try and swing the ball in with a one footed volley, though he fired over the bar into a section of delighted Senegal supporters, so close were the margins in this game, though a cynic would argue that both team's defences were woeful and that it wouldn't be surprising to see a shower of goals in this game.

gary-naysmith-of-scotland-charges-forward-during-the-uefa-european-picture-id2085279

Naysmith during the game with Senegal
The Scots thought didn't give up and from kick off, they went on the attack once again, though it would be one of their players, Barry Fergusson, who would get the first booking of the game after he kept running with the ball after the referee blew for offside in which Fergusson pointed to his ear trying to indicate to the Columbian referee that he didn't hear the whistle blow. Nonetheless Scotland were matching Senegal now even with the score still at 0-0 and in the thirty-fourth minute, Christian Dailly would go on a solo run up through the lapse English defence and try and fire from outside the 'D', but Seaman would have no trouble in catching the ball and once again, another Scottish attempt fell short. Though the bright side was that Scotland were very much in this game.

A slight tweak in Scotland's formation thanks to Brown shouting orders for what to do, requested the team to play a 4-3-3 to try and get as much attacking power up front as possible if they were to try and break the deadlock in the closing stages of the first half. Wherever or not the tactics were making a difference for Scotland, Senegal did look rather cumbersome almost if they had expected the Scots to fall apart after that opening goal and the Scots sensed blood in the water and decided to go in for the kill. Senegal did make a few bad tackles with Cissé getting booked in the forty-first minute when he barged Steven Thompson off the field and Diouf would follow with 3 minutes of injury time about to start, for a hopelessly timed challenged on Stevie Crawford in which this would lead Scotland getting a free kick from some twenty yards away from the box.

Crawford would have to wait a while as the referee tried to keep the players in the box to stop shoving each other as Senegal wanted to keep a clean sheet to go in at half time while Scotland badly wanted a goal. It would be the second minute of injury time when the referee blew his whistle to give Crawford the all clear to take his free kick in which he sent it up and over the Senegal wall and the ball came curling down towards the goal however it would be Sylva could come to rescue of Senegal who would get his hands on the ball with what was in all honestly one of the best saves at this World Cup and thus that that would be the final action of the first half in which the game would still remain at 0-0. As the teams went in for half time, it was hard to tell who was the more happier of the two teams and who would be the one to come out on top...

diop.jpg

Diop during the game with Scotland

--------
The second half itself would in contrast to a rather dominate performance from Senegal would be a rather cautious one for both teams, almost if the weight of history of what it meant for both sides for reaching the last four was weighing down on them. However it wouldn't be until just seven minutes later after the start of the second half that Scotland were the one who was starting to look the more confident team and starting to cause problems on the Senegalese flanks and it would be in the fifty-ninth minute in which Don Hutchison came rushing into the box but it was here that Ferdinand Coly would make a challenge on the Scotland player but he'd time it poorly and instead send Hutchison tumbling into the box and the referee would his whistle and point to the spot...penalty for Scotland!

There were no complaints about that choice from the referee and Coly would be booked for his troubles and Kenny Miller would be the one to step up and take it and many thousands of miles away, many in Scotland held their breath and prayed that he would put Scotland into the lead in this Quarter-Final tie. The referee blew his whistle and Miller sent the ball into the bottom left...and Sylva saved it! In both Scotland and Senegal, the population in both of those countries had reactions of despair and joy over what had happened and not only had Senegal had been let off the hook there, the Scots now felt that this was perhaps a moment that would turn this game on its head and from that miss, that was the case in which the penalty miss pretty much caused Senegal to go in for the attack; the Scots just looked frazzled after that miss.

The game was really hard to call for at one point, Scotland looked in control and now Senegal who were the ones who seemed to have peaked at just the right moment for them to go out and win the game for themselves. It didn't get any better for the Scots who now had to try and find a way to find their footing in the game but worse was to follow however in which in the sixty-ninth minute, a frustrated Barry Fergusson made a stupid tackle on Aliou Cissé that was badly timed and the Senegalese supporters screamed for action from the referee. It was duly delivered when the referee ran up to the Scottish player to show him a second yellow card and then pull out a red card to give Fergusson his marching orders down the tunnel.

craig-brown-scotland-manager-01-april-1999-HTBBY9.jpg

A stunned Craig Brown following the sending off
By now, Senegal now had Scotland on the ropes and any plans that the Scots might've had to win the game had gone off the rails and the Tartan Army in Osaka couldn't even bare to look as even though the game was still at 0-0, the reaction from the Scotland fans might have said that they were losing or were about it at any point. Amazingly though despite Senegal pushing Scotland to brink and with several more yellow cards taking place with Scotland looking ever more likely to go down to nine men at any point due to their plans falling to pieces, they actually managed to hold to full time with the game still deadlocked at 0-0 though it had been an utter horror show for the Tartan Army and it could have all been so different if Miller (who himself had gotten booked towards the end of the ninety minutes following a frustrating challenge on a Senegalese player) had simply scored that penalty then Scotland might have been in the last four...

The game would now go to extra time and to make the game more tense, it would be decided by golden goal; one shot and you're out. Senegal knew that they could do this and the ten men of Scotland looked tired and Craig Brown was trying desperately to tell his players what to do for extra-time. Right from the off, Scotland mentally looked like a team that was defeated and Senegal sense this and pretty much had Scotland trapped in their own half for the first five minutes of extra time and it would be in the ninety-seventh minute that Senegal would win a corner and what would happen next would pretty much be a well remembered moment for that World Cup though not for what one would think.

The ball would be swung into the box and Diouf would get a head on it and aim it at the goal, however Scotland keeper Rab Douglas would punch the ball away but not far enough as the ball ended up hitting Paul Lambert on the leg and the ball ended up heading towards an unguarded net in which despite a despite attempt to kick it away by David Weir, it was too late and the ball bundled its way into the goal and a deafening roar from the Senegal fans followed...Senegal had scored the golden goal and would become the first African team to reach the last four of the World Cup! It was the result that perhaps the rest of the world wanted though what some failed to notice in that moment was that Scotland, or Lambert in the case, had almost made a piece of unwanted World Cup history in which Lambert had become the first player in history to score an own golden goal if that was ever possible. Only to Scotland could this ever happen to.

bcc0fef1-ef84-49de-8927-d6d8f2ff87c9
Senegal players celebrate after becoming the first African team in history to reach the last four of the World Cup
While the Senegalese would bask in the moment of history and the plaudits that came their way, for Scotland however it was an utter disaster and the banana skin that some, including Craig Brown had felt the game could become, had indeed become a reality and the own goal golden goal would go down as a mark of infamy for many Scotland fans over the years with poor Lambert being almost hated by nearly every Scottish person whenever he played football with the exception of the Celtic fans in which he played with and Lambert would admit years later in which that moment still gives him nightmares to this day. There was one other sad bit of news for Scotland for it indeed marked the end of a era.

Shortly after a post press match conference with a seething Scottish media, Craig Brown would make the sensible choice of stepping down from the Scotland job, an announcement that wasn't exactly greeted with indifference from the Tartan Army but rather more of a case getting him pushed out of the door with him being partly to blame in the eyes of many of the Senegal loss, hard to imagine that for a man that had nearly won a trophy for Scotland had now ended on a whimper. However in the following years, Craig Brown would be looked on fondly for his time as Scotland manager as the man who took Scotland to a final and manged to qualify for every tournament under his watch which was quite impressive for other Scotland managers it must be said.

For now though, the shell-shocked Tartan Army would now make the long journey home and the question now was who was to be the new Scotland manager would be. There would now be just one Home Nation left and it was looking to be quite an open tournament in many ways...

---------
And so here we are, the Quarter-finals; some you expected and somethings you didn't quite expect! So yeah, England beating the USA is pretty obvious though there is still that penalty incident which still happens though England do get a second goal here compared to OTL. However it is Senegal who make it to the last four and a first for any African team to get that far and even though I'm aware that many of you suspected Scotland would get through, I just had the feeling that even though Scotland ITTL would be far better than OTL, that's not to say that they would suffer from some pretty ludicrous results and a game with Senegal just seemed like one that in all honesty you could see happen.

Plus, if I had to do something so typically Scottish, they had just had to become the first team in the history of the World Cup to score an own golden goal; I'm a little surprised as why no one as done that for any other alternate football score TL which just seems so funny to me and yeah, poor Lambert ends up getting the OTL Beckham treatment here which TBH giving the circumstances you could see happening. The own goal here is actually pretty much the same as the own goal Scotland scored during their game with Brazil in 1998.

So yeah, with that done, now we move onto the final fixtures of this World Cup
---------
England vs South Korea

Argentina vs Senegal
---------
Yeah, Argentina beat Brazil here, the same 3-2 golden goal victory like in the old TL but anyway, who do you think will win and why plus how would you had remembered TTL World Cup? Until then, catch you later in the next update!
Refer to England as Wales twice
 
An own golden goal.
Who else but Scotland!
But seriously, great job with this World Cup so far.
Here's what I predict
England vs South Korea
Argentina vs Senegal

But... here's what I hope for
South Korea vs England
Senegal vs Argentina
 
Chapter 72: Support From Unlikely Places
Chapter 72
Support From Unlikely Places

One of the main criticisms by many outside of Europe or South America was that the World Cup was never truly a World Cup as it was mostly contested by nations from those two continents. That would be until the 2002 World Cup when for the first time the last four would be made up of teams from four different continents; England from Europe, Argentina from South America, Senegal from Africa and finally South Korea from Asia, the latter two being not on the first time they'd ever play in a World Cup Semi-Final but actually the first that an African and Asian team had reached that far. On the face of it this all seemed like a major coup for FIFA of how open it was for the world to see (still didn't help those certain unlikely corruption whispers that started to make the airwaves but that is another story) though for Senegal and South Korea, both would have very different polarizing opinions on their successful runs so far.

While Senegal had not only become the first African team to reach the last four of the World Cup, they had become pretty much the World's favourite team and pretty much the main team that perhaps ever neutral in the world wanted to win, the same could not be said for the remaining tournament co-host South Korea. While they too had made their own history of becoming Asia's first World Cup semi-finalist, it was fair to say that they weren't exactly a team that anybody really liked and this was defiantly the case if you were either Italian or Spanish in this case as South Korea's run had left a trail of controversy in their wake; granted World Cup controversy was nothing new as was the many shenanigans taking place at FIFA, but even so what had happened so far did raise more than a few eyebrows of how the Koreans had it this far.

South Korea's last sixteen tie with Italy had been a game dogged with some really questionable refereeing choices that did seem to indicate that the referee for that game was clearly biased in favour of the Koreans all of which has been a game well documented and is something that to this day remains a source of anger among Italians. The sad thing was that bad refereeing in games involving South Korea was not to be a fluke in that game with Italy, in fact during their Quarter-Final tie with Spain, they would suffer a similar controversial exit which was somehow even worse than what had befallen the Italians such as two disallowed goals that should never had been chalked off and is a game that many Spanish supporters have never forgotten and by now the rest of the world couldn't help but see that something was well and truly amiss with what had happened.

2002-world-cup-south-korea-vs-usa-in-daegu-dae-han-minguk.jpg

South Korean fans prior to their Semi-Final game with England

As it was though, many in South Korea couldn't care less of how any in the world might have thought of them, they were now only a game away from a reaching a final, an incredible achievement that for any team outside of Europe or South America was amazing though the only team to prevent them from getting into that final was none other than England. While on paper many expected England to trample the Koreans under their boots, the same had been said for what many felt the Italians and the Spanish would do and look what happened there and nobody seemed more suspicious at the Koreans than that of England manger Glenn Hoddle. Privately he like with the rest of the world felt that something was always amiss in those games how everything seemed to go within the co-hosts favour and given his own superstitious beliefs that had been well documented following the bizarre addition of adding a 'faith healer' for the team though it might seemed like he had a point.

As the old saying goes, it always happens in three and England were to be the third team that South Korea would face during the knockout stage and there was a sudden sense of dread among several of the players that these superstitious that some of the players and many of the English press questioned about a lot now seemed to be turning into reality, in fact prior to their Semi-Final match, David Beckham would admit many years later stating that the build up to that game was perhaps the most wary he'd ever been and some of the players began making their own private prayers just to make sure that they wouldn't suffer the same fate as the Italians and Spaniards. However one could pray all they liked but what mattered was character and getting the job done and that was what this England team had to do.

The game itself would be played in the South Korean capital of Seoul and while there was a good number of England fans around the ground, the vast majority were there to back the Koreans though while the English might not have had the best support in that ground, they did have a set of support that dwarfed that of the Koreans...the rest of the world, mainly in Italy and Spain for obvious reasons. While it is fair to say that to the rest of the world, England aren't exactly the most well liked team mainly down to the infamous reputation regarding their hooligan trouble that has blighted the national side for decades, things would be different here that for once, everyone other than the Koreans would be rooting for England as many wanted to see the so-called cheating Koreans get their comeuppance even if the team to do it was England. So thus, England would gain support from some unlikely places except for Scotland, Wales and across Ireland but then again some things don't change.

world-cup-2002-korea-japan-june-2002-argentina-0-england-1-sapporo-BHX3DE.jpg
Some of the lucky England fans in Seoul
Right from the off though, England started off as the better side and immediately went on the attack of South Korea with even Scholes in the second minute making a delicious left footed volley in which South Korea's keeper, Lee Woo-jae, had to knock over the bar to go out for an English corner, one that didn't come to much in the end. As good a start as it was for England here, some more keen eyes noted that England would make some bad passes to try and keep the ball that saw it fall to a South Korean player as they tried to play on the counter, but would be stopped whenever they ventured forward. Despite heavy English pressure in the opening period, South Korea did began to relax more into the game, not helped thanks to them getting a curious free kick near the English penalty box in the fifteenth minute which seemed due to a coming together of Lee Young-Pyo and Danny Mills and the referee felt that South Korea deserved it.

While nothing totally controversial about it, it didn't help the suspicious of those in the England camp who had been wary going into this game thinking that worse was to follow. The free kick was taking by was deflected off an England player and from that, Trevor Sinclair retrieved it and fired it up the field towards Owen who went on the run and the noise from the England fans increased as they spurred Owen on to get the goal. To his dismay however, he was judge to be offside with his run and despite some English protests, the South Koreans got a free kick. Something was up. The free kick would be taken and despite England piling pressure on the Koreans, they just couldn't seem to get a good clear shot on target and as Hoddle watched on, he couldn't help but fear if it was down to their poor finishing, some strange supernatural force or both was unknown other than the fact that the Koreans were not going to roll over to the English so easily.

As the first half rolled along, South Korea seemed to not only grow in confidence thanks to that charged home crowd roaring them on but also looked keen to score and had given England a scare as they had tested Seaman a few times and perhaps the big heart in the mouth moment when Young-Pyo fired a shot in the twenty-fourth minute which went past Seaman on his right and would've gone in had the ball not gone the wrong way when it hit the post and bounced out for an English goal kick. Relief all around for Hoddle and his men as they knew they had been let off the hook there and it was becoming clear that the English players were starting to fall into the same trap as the other teams before them and seemed to underestimate the Koreans and the Asian side were proven to be a surprisingly good outfit when they went on the counter and the then in the twenty-eighth minute, Lee Chun-soo would fire a shot on the edge of the penalty area that hit the crossbar and once again England felt lucky that time, though it was clear that all this luck would end unless they improved their performance.

englands-mills-jumps-for-the-ball-with-south-koreas-yoo-during-their-international-friendly-match-on-cheju-island-englands-danny-mills-r-jumps-for-the-ball-with-south-koreas-yoo-sang-chul-during-their-international-friendly-match-at-the-world-cup-stadium-on-cheju-island-south-korea-may-21-2002-england-drew-1-1-with-south-korea-reutersdan-chung-2D4EYHF.jpg

England vs South Korea during the Semi-Final
By the thirty-fifth minute of the game, the noise coming from the excited South Korean supporters was seemed getting louder by the minute who probably couldn't believe that they were holding their own with England and and that their miracle run to the final seemed a likely possibility. The English bench, press box and supporters all started to feel nervous of the game before them with the idea that they might be on the verge of an embarrassing defeat and such was this nightmarish scenario such a real possibility given the state of play that neither could speak. The thousands of English supporters couldn't see themselves scoring and the best they could hope for was it to still be level when it came to half time as well as a vastly better performance. It would come then as something of an unexpected moment just four minutes later when Beckham won the ball off Park Ji-sung and lobbed it up the field towards Trevor Sinclair and went down on the run in order to try and find the opening goal in which he made it to the edge of the penalty box and fired into the top right corner which it his dismay saw it being knocked away by Lee Woo-jae and while it had been unlucky, it felt like it had been England's first attempt in what felt liked ages by this point.

Sinclair's miss though would be enough to convince the England players to go out at the Koreans and stamp their authority on the game and get a late goal in the dying moments of the first half. Then in the forty-fourth minute of the game came the first controversial moment in which England prepared to take a corner in which Beckham stepped up to take it and it found the head of Sol Campbell who banged in the ball into the back of the net and he went running off celebrating like a lunatic that he had broken the deadlock, yet English joy was quickly cut short when the referee had blown his whistle and pointed for a Korean goal kick instead. The English players, led by a furious Beckham, confronted the referee about the goal being disallowed and the England captain would then find himself given a yellow card over his arguing with the referee. It seemed though to many that the bias refereeing that surrounded the South Koreans was going to strike again in this game.

It would appear that Danny Mills pulled a shirt on one of the Korean players and that everyone other than the referee seemed to miss it. It seemed like a minor offence but that didn't stop some of the Three Lion fans starting to think that they were about to face a fate like all those poor teams that South Korea put away had done. What was worse, losing to South Korea or in a World Cup final? Neither thought seemed like a good comfort for either. It didn't leave an Englishman happy about the circumstances and after a few minutes of added time in which the English players looked annoyed at their luck, the first half ended 0-0 and the South Korean players trotted off as the more happier of the two for how well they'd done so far. If they were to keep England frustrated at this rate, who knew what might happen next...?

_37939078_newowen300.jpg

Some coming together during the closing stages of the first half

---------
Neither of the English players were happy how that first half had gone; on any day England would've been cruising at this point and the dressing room atmosphere would've been a very different place to one that was being held during that half time. To say Hoddle was furious over the game would be an understatement as he went the full 'hairdryer' treatment on the players and ordered them to go out there and perform otherwise if they lost, they'd most likely never be allowed back into England again for shame. So it was a much better performance that England put on for the start of the second half as while they might've not been going all out for scoring goals, they were keeping the ball close and making sure that they never once let South Korea get the ball at all.

The English supporters started to find their voice again as they began to out chant the Korean support who now were looking rather weary as it felt like they might've wasted themselves for not getting anything when they looked like the team that was giving England problems. Then in the fifty-fourth minute, Scholes ran down on the left side of the penalty area in which he crossed the ball up and over towards Owen, inside the box, who was waving for him to give it to him in which he made the ball land on his chest and when the ball fell towards his feet and slammed the ball home on his right foot to fire the ball into the roof the of the net and this time, the goal stood. There must've been a minor earthquake felt in England when that goal was slammed in as it felt like it had been coming and even better considering how that last goal was ruled offside by some dubious means and the England players surrounded Owen and celebrated with him.

For South Korea, that goal was no doubt a major setback and had to find a way to get back into this game and hopefully, to the many neutrals, that it wouldn't be thanks to the referee. The game reached the sixty-first minute with the game still at 1-0 for England and this brought about the first substitutes of the game in which for England Teddy Sheringham went on for Emile Heskey and for South Korea, Cha Du-ri went on for Lee Eul-young in the hope they could get more firepower. The Three Lions didn't look that bothered to try and score again as South Korean looked shattered and unable to score, though little did the English players knew then that this was actually part of a plan to lead England into a false sense of security as whenever they had the rare chance of getting the ball they would perform wayward passes which seem to annoy England as if the Koreans were trying waste time in a game that they were losing in.

international-friendly-south-korea-v-england-michael-owen-england-GAB2NK.jpg

Owen just prior before he breaks the deadlock in the game
Then in the sixty-ninth minute, Korea broke forward with Du-ri sprinting on the counter and his run would see him reach the edge of the box in which Rio Ferdinand had to perform a sliding tackle to stop this sudden Korean advance. It would be a badly timed tackle though and he half expected to see a yellow card and South Korea being awarded a free kick. Instead the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty. It was just outside the box and nowhere near to be a penalty and the English players protested this but the referee wouldn't think anything else of it and Du-ri would run up to the spot an awaited further orders though for many in England, many who had doubted a conspiracy were now starting to become true believers at this rate. It was time for Seaman to stop South Korea from converting this penalty and one could imagine many English supporters with their hands to their mouths and praying for it to be a miss.

Du-ri ran up and fired down the middle and Seaman went to the left, but the ball instead bounced off his foot and the ball was diverted skywards and over the bar, almost an exact replica of what had happened when during Euro '96, Seaman made a similar save to deny Scotland the equaliser. Cue the roar of joy from the English fans who celebrated that miss more louder than even the goal earlier and Seaman was surrounded by his teammates congratulating him and it felt like justice was done right there and then and it's likely that across the world some would have secretly celebrated that penalty miss. From then on South Korea's hopes for a comeback quickly went into a tailspin and any South Korean fan had to wonder what if the penalty had been a successful one.

Almost if England were wanting to show South Korea who was boss, England became a uncaged animal as they tore into the South Korean defence in the hope of finding another goal that would ultimately kill this game and give England glory. That all being said, the game was still at 1-0 by the seventy-sixth minute with anything still there to happen as the next goal would surely decide the game and it looked set to be that England would be the team to score next, the question being of when instead of if. That all said England didn't get it their own way as South Korea would get a dubious free kick three minutes later for a little nudge that seemed harmless to many but in which the referee felt was needed.

international-friendly-south-korea-v-england-GAB2KT.jpg

The match during the closing minutes with England still leading by a slender 1-0

The free kick, taken some thirty yards from the penalty box, would be easily saved by Seaman who didn't waste much time as he lobbed the ball quickly up the field in which Beckham got it and would slip the ball towards Sinclair, via Lee Min-sung's legs thanks to a nutmeg, and Sinclair would race towards the box in which Hoddle stood there on the touch line screaming at Sinclair to hammer home the ball and end the game. So in the eighty-first minute, Sinclair duly obliged and slammed home the ball into the right side of the net however his shot ended up hitting the post and bounced that saw the game remain 1-0. A frustrating groan was heard from all around the England support who knew that had it gone in then it would be game over; now with such a slender lead still intact, the Koreans could easily drag this game into extra-time much like what had happened with the Italians.

When it came to the final minutes of the game, the match was really turning into a nerve shredder in which no one knew just how it was going to end with South Korea more than likely able to snatch a goal in the closing minutes while England themselves could simply add another goal to not only give them breathing room but also pretty much kill this game off for good. It really was a tense atmosphere watching that game, the sort of which you'd dare not breath giving the tension and even that loud Korean crowd seemed to be getting all the more quiet as the minutes kept ticking away and even the England fans couldn't bare to look fearing that their chance to reach the final was about to ripped away from them in the harshest way possible.

Several desperate tackles from the Koreans followed yet shockingly none of them were giving a card which only seem to add to the feeling of conspiracy in the air and yet still England couldn't seem to find a second goal to give them the victory thanks to some mad defending from the Koreans now hanging onto grim life. The clock seem to creep along painfully slow until finally much waiting, and frazzled nerves and perhaps many heart attacks later, the final whistle blew and at first everyone England let out a sigh of relief before then descending into one madcap party for reaching a first World Cup final since 1990. The South Koreans on the other hand look utterly dejected at coming so close yet so far, however given the controversy surrounding them, it was fair to say that not many would be feeling any sympathy for them.

football-england-v-brazil-june-2002-world-cup-koreajapan-england-football-B4HHMN.jpg

England fans in London watching the final moments of the game
For now though, this was England's moment of glory and it really was a happy occasion with Glenn Hoddle looking like the happiest man in the world while the rest of the players were exhausted yet proud at what they had done with perhaps the image many will remember is that of Owen on his knees close to tears while Beckham tries to help him back up onto his feet again to applaud their fans who like many across England are all on a high. So there it was, England in a first final since 1990 and waiting them in the final would be an old foe who by chance were playing in their first final since 1990 too. One thing was certain though, whenever those two met, sparks were always likely to fly and a degree of tension to say the least...

----------
The next update and yes, England defeat South Korea and I think you know who they'll be facing in the final. Anyway, we are nearing the end of 2002 and soon it'll be 2004, who knows how that'll end up compared to the old TL. So yeah, hope you enjoyed that update and I'll be seeing you next time for the final part of the 2002 World Cup...see you then!
 
If this follows what happened when England and Argentina actually faced each other then...

Final
England vs Argentina

South Korea wins the Third Place Game against Senegal
 
Chapter 73: One For All
Chapter 73
One For All

With a packed crowd of seventy thousand people in Yokohama's International Stadium and an expected worldwide audience of sixty-three million, June 30th was to be the Grand Final of the 2002 World Cup with the final two being Argentina and England; the two that several had predicted would make it this far. This would be the first time in not only twelve years that the two old rivals would meet at the World Cup but the last time they met was in a bad tempered final that the English would come out on top, a tournament that many would say is one of the worst in terms of negative play though it is fair to say that the 2002 World Cup might have given that one a run for its money not for the controversy and suspicious that has surrounded that World Cup to this day.

With so many dubious and woeful refereeing calls that ranged from penalties that should or shouldn't have been given, harsh red cards, disallowed goals and certain teams getting some questionable decisions in their favour have to many left this World Cup to have many questions lingering on that have never really been answered. The first Asian World Cup had technically been a success in terms of organisation with South Korea putting on Asia's best ever showing at a World Cup by reaching the last found and fell short in the third place round with Senegal who incidentally had performed Africa's greatest ever World Cup run too, the handling of what the many referees had done in this World Cup had left a lot to be desired; the only thing to become the cherry on top for such a controversial World Cup would be a rough and tumble final between England and Argentina in this final match to lift that famous trophy though even before a ball had been kicked, the question of who the referee would be was something that both sides were worried about.

With several referees already getting a lot of criticism for how badly they had been (mostly in the likes of Italy and Span for good reason) FIFA had to save face to go along with the public opinion and find a most suitable referee for the final, even if they themselves had been the ones who had caused much of these problems in the first place. It was however that any fears both sides that one or the either might get all the right decisions much like with the South Koreans had caused more paranoia for both sides and in rare move of unity by the two sides, the FA and AFA demanded that the referee for the final should not be one that had one that had been at the heart of many terrible calls, mainly the ones who had been involved with South Korea.

england-football-fans-supporters-june-2002-pictured-celebrating-after-b4jng2.jpg

Two supporters standing together (incidentally neither are English and Argentine)

Thankfully their wishes were answered as in this case, FIFA would appoint the Italian referee Pierluigi Collina would do the honours of managing the final, a referee that many a football fan would have a great respect for and perhaps was the only one who'd be able manage a final on this scale compared to all of the other referees in this World Cup. Nonetheless, across both England and Argentina, many would pray and hope that it would be their team that would be lifting that cup by the end of the night though it was said that England were only just slight favourites to win and while their run to the final had been pretty much straight forward, Argentina had been something a slow burn to get to this point.

After just squeaking out of their group finishing second behind Sweden, Argentina would have a bit more of a tricky route to the final in which the first to play would be Denmark. This time, the Argentine team finally woke up and would comfortably dispatch the Danes 3-0 before then it would be a truly epic Quarter-final encounter with their arch rivals Brazil. That game would proved to be the game of the tournament in which Argentina took the lead at first before Brazil responded to turn the game around in the second half before the sending off of Ronaldinho changed the game in which Argentina managed to snatch a dramatic equaliser to take the game into extra time in which Batistuta would score the golden goal that send a nation into a madcap euphory.

Following this would be a Semi-Final tie with Senegal, a side that pretty much every neutral in the world wanted to get to the final and Argentine would have to play the unintended villains for the game. As it turned out, Argentina would defeat the plucky Africans though only just as it took a late eighty-seventh minute winner from Crespo that would send La Albiceleste into the final and the country, much like in England, could hardly wait to play in their first World Cup final in over a decade though inside the stadium, the tension and passion was there from both sets of fans trying to out chant each other with such gusto that it was more than likely that many Japanese security guards probably had never witnessed anything like it; question was though was who would be winning their third World Cup after tonight?

england-footballersin-redline-up-before-their-historic-match-vs-argentina-e0ebn0.jpg

The inside of the stadium just after kick off with the England team lining up for the anthems
As the England players (dressed in their away red tops for the game) went along the line to shake hands with Argentine players, the atmosphere seemed to get more and more intense prior to kick-off as both sides were determined to win the game and the atmosphere generated by both fans made it feel like the final itself. Truth be told, many would argue that this game was the final that everyone had wanted with the talent and star power (well, from an English perspective) all on show here. The game started of being quite a nervy start with both sides pressing high to get the opening goal, but at the same time both sides had let their defences open for attack and it wasn't hard to think that either fan in either London or Buenos Aires watching the game live must've gotten a heart attack at how close either side had come close to conceding.

Michael Owen nearly scored first in the tenth minute in which Cavallero had to knock it over the bar to stop the English taking first blood while just five minutes later, Argentina nearly took the lead themselves from a corner kick in which Ortega nearly headed it in in which sadly for him saw his shot crash off the crossbar. So far the game was being played at positive end to end game and certainly not the brutal and bad tempered affair of 1990 that was sure and a goal was certainly coming, but for who? While it was clear to all how much both sides wanted to win this game, it was causing a few problems for Pierluigi Collina, in which he was trying to keep the game flowing despite some of the challenges such as waving for play on.

Even though compared to other games in this World Cup that this game seemed to be excellently managed, there were a number of questionable parts in the game in which both sets of fans thought should've seen a card being shown and this was mostly felt with the Argentines with was such moment. In the twenty-first minute, Rio Ferdinand made a sliding challenge that brought down Crespo in which made many Argentine supporters expecting the Englishman to be booked, but the referee to their shock simply waved play on as if he was trying to prevent the need to use his cards this early on though it was clear that sooner or later there would be cards shown too. However such thoughts of bias were quickly rubbished away in the twenty-seventh minute. Batistuta went running into the box and Sol Campbell tried to get the ball off the Argentine captain but he couldn't quite get it right in which he sent the Argentine player hitting the ground and the referee blowing his whistle and pointing to the spot for a penalty.

070602-football-world-cup-2002-argentina-v-england-sapparo-michael-c7nfm2.jpg

Early moments during the opening minutes of the game

To no one's surprise, the English players protested of it being a soft challenge. Nonetheless, up stepped Batistuta to take the penalty with David Seaman now having to make sure he kept out this shot to prevent Argentina from taking the lead. Batistuta fired his shot to the left by Seaman guessed correctly and swotted it away but to his horror, right into the path of Pablo Sorin who came running in on the rebound to slam home the ball and strike into the upper right back corner of the net. After all the minor mishaps earlier, Argentina had gone in front and now the only noise in the stadium was that of the blue and white clad Argentine supporters celebrating while their English counterparts were left stunned and unsure as to what to do next.

The goal itself proved to be something of gut punch moment for England as things nearly got worse for the Three Lions when, in a rather flustered state, they nearly caused Argentina to get a second goal in which the defence was easily ripped opened by Crespo in the thirty-fourth minute and had it not been for the goalkeeping skills of David Seaman, Argentina would've been 2-0 ahead and it could've been curtains for England and their hopes of winning the World Cup. The brows on England manager Glenn Hoddle's forehead tensed as he now had to try and figure out a way to get in it so he began shouting at his players to change their shape slightly and focus on not letting Argentina get more goals before the break while any goals England got would be seen than nothing more than a bonus.

England weathered a storm as the game got rather feisty though Hoddle did seem to notice the actions of one such player in that Argentina team, Sebastián Verón, and noticed that throughout the game that he seemed to be playing poorly almost on purpose as at one point during the game when the ball was passed to him, he made a bad connection that saw the ball spun out and end up as and English throw in. These moments would see the Argentine supporters boo and hiss whenever he did something like that, were they on purpose or was he just that bad? The England manager didn't want to know about what went on in the other team camp and instead kept barking orders to his own team to try and get something out from this first half.

MFR_TCH_200116OWEN_02.jpg

More handbag moments following Argentina taking the lead
Just before half time though, England would get their best shot on target in the game so far when in the second minute of added injury time, Beckham crossed the ball into the box and Paul Scholes got his head on it as he sent it towards goal. However his shot would only just be knocked out by Cavallero who only just managed to get a fingertip on the ball. Had that gone in, it would've changed Argentina's team talk at half time, but the confidence of many in Argentina about how they thought the game would be going. Despite some late English pressure, Argentina would hold on and would go in at half time leading by a single goal. Glenn Hoddle now had to get the team back in line as if this was to carry on like this, Argentina would be just another forty-five minutes away from lifting the cup and, in the eyes of some Argentines, revenge for 1990...

---------
The Argentine players knew that England would be out for blood when the second half came about, but few could imagine just how much England would really press into Argentina. Though England weren't getting any goals, they were playing a lot better and weren't giving the South American team any chance to score another goal. It would get feisty in the fifty-seventh minute when Trevor Sinclair and Zanetti came together in a collision to try and collect the ball in which while it was an accident that no one was at fault, it didn't stop the two players having a go at each over who was to blame which got into what can be described as a playground argument with a lot of pushing, shoving and shouting involved and the frustrated referee, after failing to try and calm the pair down, instead decided to book both players. Now the cards were out.

As the second half went on, England did start having a few good chances with Beckham coming close with a volley in the sixty-sixth minute which only went over the bar and one attempt from Owen two minutes later hit the post. This might've sounded like that Argentina were rocking but the game was really a thrilling end to end game with Argentina trying everything to get the next goal and prevent an English comeback. Diego Simeone in the seventy-third minute had one brilliant attempt saved when he sent the ball curling into the top left corner of the England goals though it was only thanks to Seaman that kept it out and groans were heard from frustrated Argentine supporters everywhere as they knew that with it being such a fragile lead and how England were playing, it was very likely that the Three Lions would come up and bite them.

football-2002-fifa-world-cup-finals-group-f-sapporo-japan-7th-june-picture-id78978457

Some moments during the start of the second half
That all being said as the clock rolled into the final ten minutes, it was starting to become brown trouser moment time as England were now just ten minutes away from losing the final to Argentina and would all the promise they'd shown in the second half be all for nothing? If England fans were feeling nervous then the Argentina fans too weren't feeling much better as it was all feeling too good to be true to hold such a slender lead like that for so long that something was bound to happen as in what many matches between the two sides were of anything to note. In the eighty-fourth minute, Verón would make a rather bad tackle on Owen that seemed to be almost deliberate, as if he was asking for it. He would be booked but the Argentine captain looked uninterested as he was shown yellow and many of his fellow countrymen glared at him knowing that if he kept this up, things were bound to go wrong.

Then with three minutes to go, England won a corner and it came as quite a surprise to many that due to the frantic pace of the game and the end to end action, it did feel like the game had been shorter than expected, but that wasn't really important as many of the England players settled round in the penalty area with the Argentine players hoping to get the ball. Beckham took the corner and what happened next became an infamous moment for Argentine fans everywhere. The ball was crossed into the box and Placente would header the ball quickly away towards Verón in which many thought he was going to simply kick the ball up the field and not give England a chance, instead as he was given the ball at his feet, his touch was too hard and the ball bounced off his foot and right into the path of a surprised Teddy Sheringham (having come during the seventy-sixth minute) and with one lucky shot, sent the ball racing through air towards the goal and slam into the back of the Argentine net. England were back in the game!

The Argentine players, the supporters in the ground and perhaps millions more back home all looked mortified at what had happened; the growing fears they had been getting the longer the game went on had become a nightmarish reality. The hope of getting their hands of world cup might have been curly snatched away at quite literally the last minute. Once it seemed to sink in what had happened, many of the Argentine supporters became furious with their captain and vile jeering his was getting was enough to make anyone wince at how powerful it was. The game suddenly now look like it was going into extra time and Hoddle could see on the Argentine bench that they planning ahead for what was most likely to happen in extra time and as it would happen, the final whistle for ninety minutes would be blown and the final would go into extra-time and at this point, no one really knew who'd be the winner.

3dfc7580-bc37-415f-acf6-0ea5f172c27b.jpg

English joy following the late equaliser

While the English players now felt a huge surge of confidence about their chances of winning, the reaction of the Argentine players was one of disbelief and of being utter mortified for what had happened. Any dreams those players had of lifting the cup had been not exactly shattered but certainly greatly endangered their dreams and as the English players were gathered round Glenn Hoddle over what they were to do for extra-time, some couldn't help but glance over at their Argentine counterparts in which their manager, Marcelo Bielsa, was utterly ripping them a new one and even though most of the English players probably didn't know what was said, it was clear that by his reaction that Bielsa was far from happy for letting the game get to this point.

As extra-time began, there would actually be a small bit of history to be made that not many thought about at the time until after the match. While this was not the first World Cup final to go into extra-time, it would he however the first final to be decided by golden goal; one shot and that's it. It really was a tense feeling that just one wrong move could decide the game in a short but crushing one for one of those teams. The players all knew this scary fact and even the previously buoyant fans on both sides in the stadium seemed rather muted as the gravity of the situation was only starting to become apparent as no one really knew who'd win either going all the or perhaps within the next few minutes.

So when extra-time began, both teams weren't going all guns blazing like before but rather were acting careful and for the next five minutes the game turned into something of an anticlimactic affair with nothing happening though there was the odd tackle made once or twice but other than that nothing was happening. It was however in the ninety-eighth minute that things began to pick up as Glenn Hoddle barked out orders for the team and it would be England that began to push Argentina back and the England fans roared in encouragement that they felt they had a chance and it was a worrying sight for the Argentine supporters seeing their team looking rattled, clearly the sudden nature of losing their lead and going into extra-time had rattled them and now seemed there for the taking.

soccer-fifa-world-cup-2002-group-f-argentina-v-england-gac5tk.jpg

A far from happy Bielsa during the start of extra-time
Then right on the one hundred and second minute of the game after much English pressure, England won a corner and this was the moment for England and even the English fans seemed aware of something big seemed certain to happen given the loud roar that could be heard. Beckham once again took the corner kick and this would have Ferdinand managed to connect his head on the ball and with a powerful header sent the ball roaring past the hands of Cavallero in which he could only watch helplessly as the ball went slamming into the bottom right corner of the net. There it was, the golden goal. End of the match and thus, the end of the 2002 World Cup. Hardly anyone remembers what happened next after the final whistle other than the jubilant England players embracing each other, the supporters losing it and the sad Argentina players and fans all looking so heartbroken at what had just happened.

England fans would remember the game as the one in which they snatched victory from brink while Argentine supporters would remember it as the game they let slip and how they were so close to winning the World Cup and this would add another edge to the rivalry between the two nations. Even after the goal had gone in, the Argentine players pleaded with the referee to try and chalk off the goal claiming there was a foul in the box and it shouldn't have been given though looking back on replays it seems hard to figure out where the foul was and more likely that their protests were just nothing more than some poor attempt to prevent England from winning. In the end, after leading the game for so long, Argentine only had themselves to blame and perhaps the most famous image of that final would be of Batistuta on his knees punching the ground in frustration and anger over what had happened.

But alas, nothing would change; England had won the World Cup for the third time and the celebrations could begin both in the stadium and across England throughout the day and into the night. As David Beckham lifted the trophy with his teammates hardly containing themselves of how much a moment this was to be part of history and Glenn Hoddle would be carried around the ground on the shoulders of his players to receive the congratulations from the England fans while the Argentine players could only look on with dismay at their dreams being shattered with many wondering what might have been, some of them couldn't bare the thought of wearing their runners-up medals and quickly took them off not wanting to be reminder of failure.

rio-ferdinan18.jpg

Delighted England players following the golden goal being scored
For this side of England players, now dubbed as the 'Golden Generation', they would head home as heroes with knighthoods and OBE's awarded to the players and manager and for that summer, England went football crazy though obviously a much muted response in Scotland, Wales and around Ireland followed it must be said. As wonderful as this had been for the Three Lions, there was no time to relax as soon enough, thoughts for Euro 2004 now loomed. England's victory came the pain for Scots and the Welsh who would never heard the end of it and now were fired up to qualify for Euro 2004 and their hopes of preventing the auld enemy getting any further glory. What would happy? Either way, history looked set to be made in Portugal in two years time...

2002 ALT4.png

Final results of the Knockout stage of the 2002 World Cup

---------
And so here we are, the 2002 WC is over and with it, England are champions though there are a few differences here compared to the old TL. Anyway, hope you enjoyed TTL's 2002 WC and before I say anything, yes, Mike Basset: England Manager still happens ITTL, it would be horrendous for any football TL not to have that film in it! :p That said, there are a few differences to the film here such as the infamous airport scene now features not just the English, Scottish and Irish players getting into a brawl but also has by chance the Welsh and Northern Irish teams there too that adds further spice! Funnily enough if you remember how the film makers managed to make some pretty damn close predictions such as Brazil winning the World Cup and how England would beat Argentina in the group stage, they also show Scotland getting beat by an African side, ITTL, they call that correct here only its Senegal and not Ethiopia! Speaking of which, will we see Senegal soon ITTL...?

But yeah, suppose it would be fun to hear what many of you would think what TTL Mike Basset film would be like here. So next time we head to the Algarve in which Euro 2004 begins and we'll see you all soon...until next time! :)
 
Chapter 74: One Foot In The Algarve - 2004 European Championship
Chapter 74
One Foot In The Algarve


193px-UEFA_Euro_2004_logo.svg.png

For Euro 2004, there would be a British presence in Portugal that summer in Wales, Scotland and world champions England would compete in the hopes of winning the first European championship of the 21st century. A lot had changed in the two years that followed England's victory in Japan in which Hoddle and several of the team such as Beckham, Owen and Scholes would all be knighted and many hoped for similar success to win the double with the media dubbing that England team as the 'Golden Generation'. That all being said, not everyone was wanting to congratulate the Three Lions that much with certain neighbours for their success had been something of great annoyance from the Scots, Irish and Welsh who all wanted to get one over the English and hopefully put them in their place.

As it would be the case, the Scots and Welsh both had only managed to make to the European Championships via the play-offs though both Irish teams failed to qualify with Northern Ireland in particular having a disastrous campaign which saw them finished dead last in their group and thoughts of something changing for both sides was something that was becoming important as with the redevelopment of Windsor Park, Lawrie Sanchez being given the role of manager and with money being poured in, hopes are for Northern Ireland to make it for the next World Cup in 2006 and end a fourteen year absence from playing in tournaments while for the south, the fallout from the infamous Saipan incident still brought a shudder to many in the south and of what the future held for them.

Regarding both Scotland and Wales, the latter had what they called their own 'golden generation' as opposed with the English 'golden generation' that was hoping to make amends after their disappointing show at the last World Cup two years ago and this led to many wanted Mark Hughes to get the sack as Welsh manager but he wanted to make up for it and thus, helped Wales qualify for Euro 2004, their first European Championship since 1996. On the either side of things, Scotland had all good reason following the end the 2002 World Cup there was perhaps the best possible news they could have gotten, with a little help from the Welsh of course. The Reason? Scotland and Wales' joint bid to host the 2008 European Championship had been successful and thus, both countries were wanting to make a good show at this tournament and across Scotland, major work was taking place all over the country in preparation for Euro 2008.

When the draw for Euro 2004 was made, all three Home Nations had tough groups though they weren't impossible with the talent and experience they had in each of their teams and Wales would be the first British team to play on the 12th June as they took on Spain...

46432947985_7ff076438a_o.png

The Groups for Euro 2004

---------
It was fair to say Wales had rotten luck to play Spain in their opening game who not only had they to play an up and coming team but also in a hot Iberian climate that seem to suit Spain more than the poor Welshmen and despite their brave efforts to hold back the Spaniards, they'd score first in the sixtieth minute and with how much Spain dominated poor Wales, many thought that was it for the Welsh. However it would be a dramatic last minute corner for Wales in the ninety-first minute in which Ryan Giggs would header home in a dramatic equaliser which utterly sucker punched Spain but gave Wales renewed hope in their chances of going through. Those hopes would then look hopeless when despite coming back on level terms against hosts Portugal, the hosts would eventually getting the better of Wales and would beat them 2-1.

simon-davies-of-wales-celebrates-his-goal-against-northern-ireland-h05x4b.jpg

With their hopes on a knife's edge, Wales would place Greece in their final group game. The Greeks had gained four points by the final group match and the only way the Welsh were to be able to go through was if they could beat them for anything other than a win would mean certain that they would be on the verge of yet another group stage exit, a situation that Mark Hughes knew that if he was to have a repeat of the World Cup then it was certain his job was on the line. To make matters worse, the Greeks had a better difference then the Welsh which meant for the latter that not only they had to win, but win big style.

Despite fears of a tense game, Wales would get off to the best possible start when John Hartson netted in the opener after just two minutes and Wales from then on never looked back for as it would turn out in the end, they would beat the Greeks winning 3-1 and scraped through to the knockout stages by only the slimmest of goal difference. By no means was it the comfortable performances that Wales had shown but compared to the last World Cup at least, they had managed to get through which at the end of the day was probably the most important factor to include.

With that though, the Welsh supporters could hardly wait as to see who'd they face next and wonder how well they'd get on, but as as it would turn out they wouldn't be the only British side left in the tournament...

2004 ALT1.png

Final results of Wales at Euro 2004

---------
When Craig Brown step down from the Scotland job following the last World Cup, the question of who would replace him and fill his big shoes became a major question among many of the Scottish supporters. As it turned out, the SFA didn't need to wait long to find a suitable replacement for the man that seemed the most suitable for the role was none other than former Rangers manager Walter Smith. As it happened, Smith didn't need asking twice if he was interested in the job as following a rather unhappy time on Merseyside as Everton manager, he was only happy to take on the Scotland job and with the appointment of his rival Celtic manager, Tommy Burns, as his assistant, it was a choice that seemed to settle the infamous divide of Glasgow's football culture.

Scotland would just miss out on automatic qualification and would end up having to play a daunting play-off tie with the Netherlands yet despite all the odds against them, they managed to get through by causing a major upset to deny the Dutch at another tournament following their own absence from the 2002 World Cup. That all being said then they did qualify, Scotland must've thought that they had gotten the short end of the stick in which they found out they had been placed in a group featuring Czech Republic, Latvia and Germany, the latter being the team they were to face in the opening match. Despite fears that it might all go wrong for them in that opening match, Walter Smith's men managed to snatch a result thanks to an up and coming James McFadden.

As it would turn out with hindsight, that result would turn out to be more of a blow to the Germans as ultimately it would harm for their chances and gave Scotland good hope in their next two games. The fallout from failing to qualify for the last World Cup had left German football in a pretty dark place during the early part of the 2000's. The next game with the Czech Republic would be something of a disappointment in which although Scotland took the lead twice, the Czechs would pull the game to a draw and given the amount of times Scotland had to bury this game, it was all for nothing though to be fair, this was a Czech team that was through a golden spell with a great selection of players coming through the ranks.

CD6936465.jpg

Scotland
vs Germany during their opening match at Euro 2004

Though Scotland had remained unbeaten by this point, they still had failed to win a game by the final group game and now this suddenly left Scotland's chances look weak and now they had to either beat Latvia to go through or hope that the Czechs would give Scotland a favour by beating the Germans which in some ways might have been just enough to get through. As it turned out, the Scots wouldn't need any helping hands for they would thrash the Latvians 3-0 to book their place in the knockout stages in which Kenny Miller would score a brace and Paul Lambert would get a goal to complete the vital victory and help book Scotland's place in the next round via the runner's up spot.

In a interesting turn of fate in which in the last World Cup in which all competing Home Nation teams won their respected groups, they would all here finish in second place which didn't help the mindset of anyone of any of the team's chances going forward. Speaking of which for one of the goal scorers in that game, Paul Lambert was a man on mission as following his embarrassing own golden goal that saw his country crash out in the last World Cup, he had become something of a pariah among the Tartan Army being somewhat even hated more than that of the Auld Enemy which was saying a lot.

Lambert would during his playing career at Celtic would be the one that many supporters from opposing clubs would jeer and cry at abuse at him whenever he had the ball and yet despite pretty much winning the hearts of all Celtic fans following a victorious run in the UEFA Cup the previous year, it still wasn't enough to win the hearts of many as that victory was still one more for the Old Firm instead for everyone else. With hindsight, the anti-Lambert hysteria that gripped Scottish football during that time was something of a bizarre and embarrassing affair, almost if he something of a war criminal over what was just an unfortunate moment of bad luck in that World Cup that could never had happened in any other way and it remains to this day as chapter of 'Old Shame' among the Tartan Army who still had it in for him when he played for Scotland.

Nonetheless, another week of more sunshine by the Atlantic was greatly welcomed by many hoping for their team's chances out there in the Algarve and even though Lambert had scored that third goal and the Tartan Army were, at best, indifferent to him, he held hoped that he could make amends big style here in Portugal. After all, if he could do something amazing with Celtic in 2003 then surely he could make it big with Scotland this year, right?

2004 ALT2.png

Final results of Scotland's group at Euro 2004

---------
And so here we are in Portugal for Euro 2004! So yeah, not much differences here compared to the old TL though there are a few detail changes that'll be important later on and before we say anything else, yes, no Greek victory here in 2004 which many will be sad about that but there we go and ofc Lambert going through his own Beckham moment for TTL and a Celtic UEFA cup victory in 2003 which was spurred on thanks to Lambert wanting to make amends for what happens here.

Anyway, the upcoming fixtures as follows:
---------
Portugal vs England

France vs Wales

Sweden vs Scotland

Czech Republic vs Denmark
---------
Who will win and why and yes, England's group stage results are pretty much the same as OTL but things will be different in the knockout stage for sure. So there we are for now and next time we shall see group stage football in action, until then, catch you all later!
 
Top