Seven Seconds in San Sebastian

Sometimes, even when it feels like everything is going against you, the best way to enjoy football is to savour the moments. This is seven seconds that Glasgow City could savour during their 9-1 Champions League Quarter Final defeat to Wolfsburg in San Sebastian relived second by second.

61:58: Lee Alexander steps forward to take a free kick just outside her area. It’s already been a long night as she puffs out her chest before taking a step and cruising her foot through the ball, building momentum, her arms swing in unison to ensure that when her target leaves the ground it does so with optimum distance and velocity. A gentle thud echoes around an empty Anoeta as she connects, the commentators calmly discussing the events that had just unfolded, the drama dissipating for now.

61:59: The ball crosses half way. Below a crowd of faces clad in orange and bright green stare skywards from the rain beaten turf situated along Spain’s northern coast. The action is skewed slightly to the left before footsteps quicken as players manoeuvre into their designated positions. The ball’s gone past most already, their necks strain to follow the trajectory overhead as the eventual descent begins.

62:00: Gravity starts to take control. Alexander can do no more and a battle is pending between City striker Krystyna Freda and Wolfsburg’s Lena Goessling. In the peripheries Lauren Wade has started to make her move, flanked on either side by defenders, she’s gambled. A month ago she had never met her American teammate but now she has faith that Freda’s battle will be won.

62:01: That faith is rewarded as Freda gets in front of Goessling, her back arches and pony tail flails as she rises just high enough to flick the ball on. Both feet leave the ground with only the static nature of the German cushioning her fall. The ball is heading in Wade’s direction.

62:02: The chase is on as the ball bounces in the space ahead. Dominique Janssen, who’s positioned closest to the centre, pivots and starts to head in the direction of the goal at speed. Her teammate, Sara Doorsun, who is already facing that way starts to veer in from the side but she eases off before the the trap is fully set, an error, her run transitioning to a jog as the experienced Janssen and a determined Wade pump their legs to whizz through the gears.

62:03: The commentators are still wondering if the assistant referee was best placed to make the preceding offside call following an earlier error of judgement. They’ve been conditioned, much like those watching, by the German’s dominance to expect nothing to happen here but Wade is winning the race and Janssen is scrambling. If the Northern Ireland international is to breach the Wolfsburg rearguard though she will have to do it on her own. Support has too far to come.

62:04: Wade’s made it to the ball first but there’s no time to think or stutter. Indecision will give Janssen a chance to block, to slow her down, to kill the move, it’s now or never.

Having already sneaked a look at goal geometric calculations hurtle through her mind as she deduces that there is no other option but to have a shot at glory. She wraps her left foot around the ball, hitting it with pace but not too hard and with a deceiving curl that has Freiderike Abt back-peddling.

62:05: Her eyes track the ball but she, Janssen and Doorsun already know. Even Abt has anticipated what is about to happen but she at least has the decency to reach to her fullest as the ball flashes across goal, past her outstretched fingertips and high into the side of the net.

Wade has already wheeled off towards the corner in celebration as Derek Mackay slips seemlessly from conversational English into an excited Gaelic yell. Freda, who had played her part in the move has her eyes transfixed on goal before she too is shooting her arms aloft in celebration as the rest of the City squad set off in pursuit to embrace the Ulsterwoman.

It’s the goal of the night. A moment of release and reward for a battle that City started long before the kick off whistle was blown. On a night where victory was never truly the target there was always a chance of a moment and when it arrived all it took was seven seconds.

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