Chapter 93: The Last Second
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Zhang Jun saw Li Yongle panting and supporting his knee a few times. Sweat continued to drip down from his cheeks. He was like a person that could fall down at any time. However, as soon as Zhang Jun started running, Li Yongle would immediately stand straight and track him, eyes glinting. Although sweat constantly seeped out from his skin, his actions were not any slower.
He had been tackled repeatedly and his teammates helped him repeatedly. “If you become soft because of this small matter, I will gladly make you regret for another year!”
“Kaka chose Zhang Jun once again! It is the right choice as Li Yongle is now injured. If Zhang Jun dashes forward, he would be able to break through Ke Da’s line of defense. Li Yongle is once again confronted with a test!”
Zhang Jun leaned against Li Yongle and could clearly hear Li Yongle’s heavy breathing. Zhang Jun stretched out his right leg to receive the ball but Li Yongle read his attempt. He parted his legs and increased his defensive area. Zhang Jun received the ball and turned around. At that moment, Li Yongle resolutely tackled him.
Zhang Jun did not want to give up and reached for the ball but Li Yongle was quicker than he expected and took the ball first. Zhang Jun was unable to retract his foot in time and it hooked Li Yongle’s left knee.
Li Yongle cried out loud but immediately gritted his teeth and resisted the pain.
Zhang Jun was shocked. He got up and pulled Li Yongle. “You… Are you alright?”
Li Yongle pushed Zhang Jun away. “The match is still going on right now!” He struggled to stand up, his left knee unsteady. His leaped a little and then limped away.
Zhang Jun looked at Li Yongle’s back as Li Yongle walked away unhappily.
“I repeat. If you are still worried about this small matter, I will make you regret for another year.” He recalled those words.
Regret? I’m afraid it won’t just be for a year.
Zhang Jun looked at the clock. The match would go into injury time in two minutes. He turned and looked at Shu Guang’s bench and saw Su Fei looking at him.
Their locked gaze said more than a thousand words.
Su Fei quickly turned her face away and Zhang Jun averted his gaze.
There’s no other choice. I’m sorry, Li Yongle! I don’t want to regret it for the rest of my life!
“Time has crept by. The fourth official has already raised the sign for three-minutes of injury time. However, Shu Guang is still one goal behind. Would they be able to get it back? This is probably the concern of Shu Guang’s supporters! Ke Da have all retreated to their half to defend. With their ability, it should not be a problem for them to hold on for three minutes.”
“That is hard to say!”
“No one would dare to guess the result of the match until the last second. It is perhaps this that has moved me the most in this match. Li Yongle is injured. An Ke injured himself to save the goal. Zhang Lintao has constantly blocked Yang Pan’s shots. It would be unfair to guess who would win when the players have been competing so desperately on the field! At the very least, I believe that to be so. I think we should quietly watch the match until it ends, regardless of whether they have three minutes or three seconds left.
After Kaka managed to pass through Luo Bin, he took a shot towards the goal from outside the penalty area. However, Zhang Lintao rushed out. Ren Yu De wanted to follow up but Liu Chao blocked his way and Deng Rui cleared the ball. The ball once again fell into Shu Guang’s half of the court.
Yang Pan’s shot from outside the penalty area was once again parried away by Zhang Lintao. Zhang Jun struggled against Li Yongle in front of the goal but it was held by Zhang Lintao.
Zhang Lintao released the ball to initiate an attack. Luo Bin took the ball with Lu Qing defending him at his side. Li Hao tried to block them but Luo Bin passed the ball to Lu Qing. He broke forward and Lu Qing passed the ball back to him. It was two against one.
“Their goalkeeper definitely cannot keep up anymore! Shoot towards the goal!” Zhang Yuchao cried out from the back.
Luo Bin did a roulette to bypass Lin Xiaofang. Sure enough, he struck the ball hard towards An Ke.
In An Ke’s vision, there were three to four balls. His vision constantly shook. His situation did not improve even after shaking his head. Just when he was overwhelmed, a leg appeared in his vision and knocked the ball away.
“Li Jieguang blocked the ball for An Ke! The ball flew to the left hand side of the penalty area, a no-man’s land. Xie Wei and He Jialin are both rushing to the ball. Who could get to the ball first?”
Just as the two approached the ball, a figure quickly intercepted the ball.
“Ah! It is Chen Bo! The defender from the right flank has gone to the left!”
Chen Bo stopped the ball before it reached the touchline but when he turned around, he saw Zhang Yulin approaching fiercely.
In his haste, Chen Bo saw a familiar figure to his right and kicked the ball over.
Wang Ning was the one to receive the ball. Zhao Defeng was also approaching.
“Ke Da has even started to press and intercept up the pitch. They are not even giving Shu Guang a single opportunity to fight back! The countdown to the end of the match has started! Ke Da’s fans have also begun to celebrate prematurely! There are only thirty seconds left! Ke Da’s substitutes are at the sidelines waiting for the referee to blow the whistle! Shu Guang’s cheerleaders have chosen to stay silent!”
“Damn it! They intercept so fiercely!” Wang Ning used his hand to block Zhao Defeng. He was in an awkward position. The other person was small and his arm could not properly block him. The loud cheers from Ke Da’s fans were like needles in his heart. I played so hard just to hear cheers for others? He was not satisfied. No matter what, he would never accept such a result. Never!
Wang Ning shouted in his heart and gave a push. The force was enough for him to create some space between himself and Zhao Defeng. This allowed him to lift his leg and pass the ball.
Kaka knew that Luo Bin would definitely prevent him from turning around. So, he took the initiative to meet the ball. He leapt up as the ball arrived and his feet swiveled around the ball. He swerved his body and managed to get past the defender.
“Brilliant! Soccer samba! Shu Guang has broken through Ke Da’s full-pitch press! However, time is running out! The referee is already looking at his watch! Can Shu Guang score a goal?”
As if answering him, Yang Pan and Ren Yu De who were midfielders suddenly moved forward to become strikers. At this moment, Shu Guang finally returned to a familiar 4-3-3 formation. Three strikers, three sharp knives. Shu Guang wanted to make a last struggle.
Liang Ke bit his lower lip and stood up. He stared intently at the entire pitch.
The three strikers would distract the defenders. So, Zhang Jun would definitely have an opportunity. Yang Pan’s shots were completely seen through by Zhang Lintao. Ren Yu De’s physical strength was also not enough for him to take the final shot. The last shot must be taken by Zhang Jun.
As Li Yongle kept this in his mind, he saw Zhang Jun who was originally in the penalty area run out to receive Kaka’s pass. He did not dare to slow down and followed suit.
“Li Yongle is sticking to Zhang Jun, containing Shu Guang’s arrow! This match is coming to an end!”
As soon as those words were said, the cheers from Ke Da’s fans doubled in volume.
At the same time, Kaka who was being chased by Luo Bin passed the ball straight ahead.
Zhang Jun was still a little far away from the ball’s arc. He sped up to get in front of the ball. Li Yongle following closely behind.
The ball bounced on the ground and decreased in speed. Zhang Jun had reached it. The ball bounced ahead once more. Li Yongle did not know what Zhang Jun wanted to do and did not dare to act rashly. However, this time he heard Zhao Defeng shout loudly. “Foul him! Foul him!”
Zhao Defeng’s idea was correct. If he was fouled, he would be given a free kick. Although the distance would be closer, the chances of Shu Guang scoring would be lower with Zhang Lintao’s play. Even if they themselves were penalized for tackling from behind, this red card would not be carried forward to the National Championship. The tactical foul would be worth it.
Just as Li Yongle was about to tackle, he was surprised to see Zhang Jun leaping towards the side of the ball.
“He jumped? What does he want to…”
Whatever happened next was beyond the imagination of his and everyone else present.
Zhang Jun had jumped sidewards onto the ball. He kicked the ball that just bounced up with his right foot and sent it behind him. The ball rolled past Li Yongle’s left side. Zhang Jun continued to move forward and went pass Li Yongle’s right side. A quick change of direction and a swerve later, he was past Li Yongle.
‘The run-around? Like this?’
Li Yongle was stunned by what had happened in front of him. When he turned his body around, he became paralyzed and fell to the ground. He then watched Zhang Jun catch up to the ball. Zhang Jun used his right foot to step on the ball, causing it to bounce up and avoid Deng Rui’s flying tackle.
Now, only Zhang Lintao was left in Zhang Jun’s way.
Zhang Lintao had already covered all the angles. Zhang Jun’s final kick would not be an easy one.
Liu Chao had already abandoned Ren Yu De and rushed over.
The referee was watching on intently.
Zhang Jun did not have much time left.
Zhang Jun lifted his right leg.
Liu Chao initiated a flying tackle three meters away from him.
The referee held the whistle in his mouth.
The ball bounced up. Zhang Jun’s right leg was like a whip as he kicked the lower middle part of the ball. Zhang Lintao leapt towards the near post out of reflex but the ball flew past him from above. He unexpectedly managed to raise his left hand to stop the ball when he fell to the ground. In fact, he managed to touch the ball but another severe pain came from his left wrist. His wrist gave way and the ball rushed past.
Liu Chao’s foot also arrived but it was too late. He only managed to scrape the sole of Zhang Jun’s boot.
The ball crashed onto the underside of the crossbar and then bounced in.
The referee’s whistle could then be heard in the quiet stadium.
Then came the loud uproar from Shu Guang’s fans.
The commentator tried to keep his voice from being overwhelmed despite the noisy environment. He shouted loudly and hoarsely. “Goal! Goal! Zhang Jun scored an incredible goal! The score is now 2:2! Both sides are tied!”
Zhang Jun climbed up from the ground. He stretched out his hands, ran towards the corner flag and roared as he stood there.
Yang Pan was closest to him. He leapt onto Zhang Jun’s back and roared with him, hands flailing furiously.
Within a short moment, they were surrounded by overjoyed teammates.
Liang Ke did not say anything. He punched the air in a hidden corner as though he would not be able to vent his nervousness if he did not do this.
Su Fei did not jump and scream like everyone else. Instead, she buried her heads within her two hands tightly.
Sun Laihong fiercely knelt on one knee and punched the ground. The victory that was in their hands is now gone.
Ke Da was overwhelmed as they watched Shu Guang’s team members celebrate.
Zhang Yang then went over and pulled Li Yongle up. “How are you? How is your knee?”
Li Yongle shook his head and replied, “I can still hold on for thirty minutes!”
The captain, Zhao Defeng then comforted his teammates. “Don’t worry! It is just a tie! There is still the overtime match! Raise your spirits and defeat them!”
The large screen was replaying the goal as the commentator calmly analyzed it.
“The best part of this is how Zhang Jun escaped from Li Yongle. Li Yongle’s defenses was very satisfactory such that Zhang Jun rarely broke through successfully. However, at that moment, he ran to the ball and jumped up. He used the back of his right foot to kick the bouncing ball back before passing around in the opposite direction to get past Li Yongle. It was an incredible run-around. His back kick was the critical moment. If there was even a little bit of carelessness, it would lead to a complete failure. Zhang Jun managed to do this in such a tense environment. He is truly skilled and bold!”
“This is truly a match where a victor cannot be decided until the last second! It is an awesome final match! The second half was truly fantastic!”
The referee blew the whistle signaling the end of the of the second half just as Ke Da’s goalkeeper released the ball.
“The second-half is over! The two sides are tied and we will now enter the thirty minutes of overtime match. The overtime match will be based on the golden goal rule. Whichever team scores the first goal, that team would be the winner and the match would be over. Now, both teams are not to enter the dressing room and will rest on the pitch. The match will continue after ten minutes!”
Chen Huafeng looked at the dazzling sun. ‘Even the audience is starting to sweat. Is it El Nino?’
‘If the winter this year is warm, it must be because of this group of youths…’