Liaoning played Xinjiang in the semifinals of a U-20 tournament at the National Games of China on Sunday, and the two sides managed to score one goal each in a mostly (we’re guessing) sloppy, mistake-ridden, difficult-to-watch contest. There was one redeeming moment for us to treasure though. Let’s go to the tape.
In the 62nd minute, a Xinjiang defender, in green, tries to clear a ball from the box. He pops the ball straight up. His teammate, thinking he can do better, attempts a bicycle-kick clearance, only to whiff completely. The ball, full of spin, bounces straight at the goalkeeper, who tries to control it with his feet but watches it roll straight past him into the goal.
If you’re Liaoning, you don’t celebrate this, do you? The proper reaction is to run, head down, back to your side, grateful, laughing only on the inside.
Xinjiang, perhaps fueled by shame, quickly countered, and found the back of the net — clarification: its opponent’s net — one minute later. The 1-1 score would hold until penalty kicks, where Liaoning would prevail 6-5.
These National Games have not been boring so far.
CORRECTION, 9/10, 1:37 pm: This article originally stated that only one goal was scored, which isn’t true; a correction has been appended with help from this game recap.