I was only planning on staying up another ten minutes. I’ll just watch the end of extra time, I thought. Read the rest of this entry »
Generally football is a fluid game, continually in motion. It does not pause for any length of time. It is also a team activity. There are, of course, moments of individual skill, but rarely do we see a one against one situation, like we might see between a batsman and bowler in cricket.
But here is the waiting. That rare, dramatic waiting. Here is that one-on-one.
A penalty has been given. Manchester City can equalise. Carlos Tevez stands passively. And waits.
His former Manchester United team-mates argue with the referee, but as always with these matters, the decision stands. Tevez’s soon-to-be-opponent, Edwin van der Sar, slowly takes a drink and deliberately wipes his gloves, anything to stall proceedings. Anything to knock Tevez’s concentration, or nerve. The referee waves a yellow card in the goalkeeper’s direction.
The referee signals – let battle commence. City’s new hero against his old colleagues. The spurned sportsman with a chance to show United what they are missing. To bring one side of the city joy, the other agony.
Van der Sar stands tall. A lot less of the target is visible. He stretches his arms out, much more a crucifix pose than an open welcome to shoot.
Tevez stands passively. He then hears the referee’s whistle.
A hop, skip, shuffle to the side. Wayne Rooney, his old striking partner, speaks, another attempt at distraction. Tevez refuses to listen. He begins his run-up, an arch towards the ball. Not too fast, but steady, determined.
Straight down the middle. Straight past van der Sar. Never stood a chance. Never any doubt. Emphatic.
Tevez reels away. His clenched fists reveal only controlled emotion – not release, not relief. Not yet.
One apiece. Manchester City are back in the game.