Football Language: Pull off
The keeper made a save. This is one way to describe the action of stopping a shot in football: to make a save. Another verb we can use is the verb phrase ‘to pull off‘.When we use this verb, we add an extra layer of meaning. The save is special. The save is amazing or difficult in some way. It seems that to pull off began to be used to mean to win, especially a horse race or other sporting competition, in the 19th century. Gradually it came to mean to do something important or special (like winning), to overcome a challenge.
The verb phrase will likely be combined with an adjective. Especially common are spectacular, amazing, key, important, fantastic – the keeper pulled off a fantastic save. As well as save, it can collocate with nouns like victory, win, and comeback, to talk about the match not just a save.
- Example: Dudek had other ideas. He pulled off a superb reflex save, only to see the ball fall back to the feet of Shevchenko. The keeper hauled himself off the floor as quickly as possible, and somehow managed to deflect the second attempt over the bar. (September 2017 football times.co.uk)
- Example: Chelsea stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga pulled off a sensational save to deny Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk during the Super Cup in Istanbul. (August 2019 Metro.co.uk)
- Example: Rangers pulled off an astonishing late comeback from 2-0 down to rescue their Europa League hopes with a dramatic victory over Braga at Ibrox. (February 2020 BBC.co.uk)