Sugiro a expressão "go easy on"(an opponent, your opponent). Ela não é usada somente em futebol, mas em esportes em geral. Mais ao pé da letra, significa: "ir com calma'', ''não ser tão duro'', ''pegar leve.''
''Chong said he did not support what Yu did, but he said he understood why a Chinese coach might ask a player to concede a match. When Chong played in a national tournament in the United States in the 1990s, his coach, who was Chinese, asked him to go easy on an opponent.“I was told not to win the match, to lose my singles match, because it would hurt his confidence ahead of the Olympics,” said Chong, who now coaches at Boston Badminton. “I wasn’t surprised because I knew the Chinese tend to do that when they play their own teammates.” [The New York Times]
''Hotly contested elections for important political positions usually include at least a little name-calling, and you can’t go easy on your opponent, just because they’re a little younger or less experienced than you.'' [MSN - USA]