Chapter 974: Five Minutes
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
When Italy scored the first goal, they still brought the football back to the center circle, hoping for the match to restart as soon as possible. However, when they scored the second goal, they simply embraced each other in their celebrations. The football was sitting alone in the goal and nobody cared about it.
That was because they were leading then, and they were the ones who needed to waste time.
Twain merely cursed a little on the sideline before recovering from the negative emotions of conceding a goal. He stood on the sideline and kept waving his hand, indicating for his players to bring the ball to the center circle and prepare to restart the match.
To the England team, there was really no time to lose…
Without counting injury time, they had only less than 18 minutes left.
“England is in a difficult situation now. From one goal up to trailing by one goal. Let’s see what Tony Twain has planned for the last 20 minutes!”
What plans could he have? It was nothing more than attacking more and be wary of the Italians’ counterattack.
Italy knew that England would be attacking now that they were trailing. They had the initiative and they could retreat and play on the counter, which was what Lippi and Italy were best at.
The England players did not perform up to standard from the start of the match up till now. Many of them were dealt a heavy blow after conceding two goals in two minutes. The goals came too quickly and all of them were not prepared for it…
In the match afterwards, they did not demonstrate the “increased offense” that Twain asked them for, instead, they stayed in their own half, not knowing what to do.
The Italians wanted to make use of the opportunity to attack while the English had not reacted yet and get another goal to seal the match. They surrounded the England penalty area and dispatched balls after balls into it. For a moment, Joe Hart became the busiest player in the England team.
“Long shot by De Rossi! Not far wide…”
“Giovinco with the ball…he’s through! What a move! He shoots… Saved by Joe Hart…”
“Long shot by Paloschi, over the bar… He should have passed the ball to Foti at the side…”
“Balotelli is not backing off against George Wood, he’s trying to get past him… Foul by Wood! Free kick! Great, Italy has another free kick!”
Wood could only shake his head helplessly at the current situation. He is not superman and no matter how well an individual performs; it is pointless if the team does not support him.
He was furious at the current situation. Were they going to give up just like that?
Balotelli had another chance to take a free kick and the Italy fans were filled with anticipation. They hoped to see Balotelli scoring twice with free kicks. These people had totally forgotten that they had complained about Lippi sending him on to “waste chances”.
“Super Mario! Super Mario!! Oh oh!” The Italy fans were chanting Balotelli’s name in the stands.
The England fans got nervous as the Italy fans chanted. They were trying to disrupt Balotelli with their jeers, but they did not know whether it was effective at all…
Twain stood on the sideline and bit his lips as he stared at Balotelli on the pitch. His heart was pounding rapidly beyond control, but he could not care much about his heart now.
Balotelli took a run-up and kicked… The ball flew over the wall straight towards the goal. Joe Hart did his best to dive towards the ball, but he was not able to touch it. The ball did not drop into the goal, flying over the cross bar instead.
That was close!
Twain gave a long sigh of relief. There were thousands of England fans who did the same.
At the 80th minute mark, England’s attack did not get better. On the other hand, Italy were doing better as they were more relaxed after taking the lead and they were able to perform all sorts of combinations.
The England fans watching from England stared at the television screen for fear of missing out on any scene that might be the crucial moment that changed the direction of the final match.
England’s performance disappointed them a little, but they did not give up hope. After all, there were 10 more minutes to go in the match and they were only one goal down. There was still hope.
Lippi took a look at his watch and saw that 80 minutes had already gone by. He looked at the situation on the pitch and decided to play it safe. If they continued to attack like this and there was a weakness in defense that England took advantage of to score, then everything would be over… Tony Twain was a sly one, how could it be possible for him not to do anything at the final moment?
He walked to the sideline and indicated to his players in the pitch to drop back and focus on defense. They would be victorious if they could drag till the end of the match.
The England players felt the pressure on them lessen and they knew that it was the final moment.
The Italians have dropped back, what should we do? There’s almost no need to think at all, we must attack of course!
Twain stood on the sideline and called out to Vaughan. It had been 10 minutes since he was substituted in but he did not perform at all…
“James! Do you remember your task?!”
Vaughan remembered of course. However, his team was being suppressed in their own penalty area, they had no chance to counterattack at all. No matter how good he was, there was no way he could score from his own penalty area…
In fact, even if Twain did not remind him, he knew it was time to perform. Agbonlahor started the match and he got a goal. Yet he had not made any contribution even though he was expected to be starting the game. If England was the lose the match, then it would undoubtedly be his responsibility… People would start thinking: If Agbonlahor was still on the pitch, would they have still lost the match?
Lippi was also a little surprised that Twain only brought Vaughan on in the final 20 minutes. However, his team managed to comeback afterwards, so he did not mind so much. There was only 10 minutes left in this match, if they could hold on, even if Twain brought 11 Maradonas on, it would not have mattered.
Lippi brought in defender Fabiano Santacroce for Giovinco next as Giovinco did not have the stamina to continue and to strengthen the defense. Italy was playing a 532 formation now and the three center backs did not give England any chance to attack.
In the last 10 minutes, Italy started to use all the tricks in the book to waste time.
They would fall whenever someone touched them and they would take their time to get up. In the span of two minutes, there were three players who went to ground because of cramps.
Twain was furious about that and he kept protesting with the fourth official. The fourth official was powerless as well, “We can’t possibly pull them to their feet using force, right?”
“Why not?! They’re obviously wasting time!” Twain glared at the fourth official. If he was the one playing, he would have grabbed the players on the ground and dragged them out of the pitch when faced with such a situation…
The fourth official had no way to deal with this unreasonable manager, and he decided to stop talking and not waste his breath.
Twain did not care about his image now. He had already thrown his suit on the ground and did not pick it up——The tie that he had on was already off, the top button of his shirt was undone, sleeves rolled up, the back of his shirt and his forehead were wet with his sweat. He looked exactly like a gambler who had lost too much.
On the other hand, Lippi was calm as a cucumber. One still could not see any expression on his face. It was as if he was neither worried about Italy nor was he happy about having the lead. This elderly gentleman did not even have a hair out of place. His full head of silver hair were hugging his head and the gold-rimmed glasses he had on reflected the lights above and nobody could see his eyes.
These two were ice and fire, a stark contrast and it was especially eye-catching.
Twain was not someone who would only vent his frustration at the fourth official. He called Bentley on the bench and brought him on in place of Gerrard. England then changed their formation to 433 with Walcott on the flank and Vaughan in the middle alone.
When Italy made the substitution, their player took their time to get off. Gerrard jogged all the way to the sideline and gave Bentley a high five and the substitution was completed. Not a single second was wasted.
The commentator from China saw that Twain changed his formation to 433 and said, “He is going for broke here. Twain doesn’t seem to be considering about anything else now.”
Whether it was extra time or penalty kicks, it would be dumb for him to be thinking about those now. If they did not score, there would not be extra time, and there would definitely not be any penalty kicks!
Bentley shouted to his teammates after he got on, “Boss asked me to tell you guys, the final is only these five minutes!” He stretched out five fingers. It was the 85th minute now, Twain did not even think about injury time or anything else.
It was as if an alarm bell rang in the minds of the England players. “The final is only these five minutes” immediately brought an urgency into them and all of them started to focus. We’ve fought so hard all the way here, how can we lose right in front of the trophy?
Even Terry went beyond the halfway line. He was not thinking about defense at all now.
England’s attacks were like waves of water gushing towards the Italy goal.
“James Vaughan with the header… It’s too straight!”
“Long shot from George Wood! Too high! What a pity…maybe he should have been calmer…”
“Walcott has broken through and the pass from him! Wayne Rooney with the shot!”
Rooney’s shot hit the near post, bounced back to Chiellini and just when the ball was going to bounce into the goal, Amelia punched the ball out and the Italians broke out in cold sweat.
England had a corner and the two center backs, Terry and Taylor went towards the Italy goal. When Bentley took the corner, Terry jumped for a diving header!
The ball flew towards the near post and just when it was about to cross the goal line, Amelia miraculously got a hand to the ball through two people and got it away!
No goal again!
Balotelli got the ball and he wanted to hit England on the break, but his ball was intercepted by Wood. After intercepting the ball, Wood turned and passed the ball to the front. It was lucky that Italy was not really planning to counterattack, otherwise Wood would definitely be overwhelmed there.
After regaining possession, England passed the ball to Cohen on the other flank. When it came to penetrative power, Cohen was not as impressive as Walcott, that was why he crossed the ball directly. This time, the cross was caught by Amelia. The attacks by England stopped for a moment.
During this suffocating attack, the match had reached the 89th minute.
Ever since Bentley was brought on, Twain remained stagnant on the sideline, not moving at all, just like a statue.
In his management career, he had seen his fair share of times like this. Sometimes, his team would level the match and even comeback to win it. Sometimes, his team would not create any miracle and they would watch the team lose the match.
What would be the result this time?
Next to him, the fourth official walked out with the board. At the same time, there was an Italian defender walking behind him. Twain took a glance at him and understood that there was only one objective to making a substitution now——To waste time and let time slip away here.
Paloschi took his time walking off the pitch, turning back a few times every step, shaking the hand of a teammate, then hugging another before turning one round with his arms raised to thank the fans… Twain gritted his teeth in anger when he witnessed this, he protested loudly on the touchline, “Why don’t you crawl out? Damn Italian! You ballless turtle, bastard!”
Too bad Paloschi did not understand Twain’s English which had a thick accent. The referee also noticed that he was deliberately wasting time and such an obvious intention could not be tolerated… He rushed forward and showed Paloschi a yellow card.
This yellow card gave Paloschi an excuse to waste even more time. He showed his displeasure at this and protested to the referee, intending to waste even more time.
Paloschi was almost at the sideline now and Lorenzo De Silverstri, who was waiting to get onto the pitch was just a step away. He was in no hurry to get on though and he wanted to wait for Paloschi to tag him in.
Twain could not tolerate the timewasting tactics of the Italian any longer. He took one step forward, grabbed Paloschi by the arm and dragged Paloschi out of the pitch!
Paloschi was about to lose his temper when he got dragged out by Twain, but when he saw Twain glaring at him, the fierce look on his face gave him a stare and he could not say what he wanted to say… He knew he was in the wrong and he could only complete the substitution with Silverstri under the watchful eye of Twain before walking towards the Italy bench.
Twain’s action brought him a lecture from the referee of course, but he did not care. If the referee did not want to punish them, he would do it on their behalf!
Right after the substitution was completed, the fourth official put down the electronic board, pressed a few buttons on it and raised it again. This time, it was to announce the amount of injury time.
“Five minutes of injury time!”
Boos rang out from the England fans as they thought that five minutes of injury time were way too little for the time that Italy wasted. It should have been 10 minutes of injury time!
The Italy fans were similarly unhappy with the five minutes of injury time——It was too long! A customary three minutes of injury time should be sufficient…
Twain raised five fingers towards the bench.
This time, the final was really just the five minutes…