From the sport article.

But they struggled to find a way through the resolute Portugal backline, however, and it was not until the final quarter of the match did the game really spring into life, with both sides almost snatching the game at the death.

I found that snatch means to try to take hold of something. But it sounds terrible in the context. What might snatch at the death stand for?

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    They likely mean winning the game with a goal very near the end, but it's not a phrase I've ever heard in English-language sports coverage. Not that I'm a huge soccer fan. – The Photon Jul 20 '16 at 4:29
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    "Snatched at the death" is an idiom specific to football (what USAians call "soccer,") rugby, and Aussie rules. Among English speaking nations, it appears to be unknown or obscure only in the United States. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jul 20 '16 at 5:49

At the death means at the end of the game.There are lots of such examples on the net.

Bulls snatch it at the death. With such a pulsating end to the game it was hard to remember that this is simply a pre-season outing, and not a game that means anything in the larger scheme of things.

It's a literary device called a metaphor, or a specific idiom used to make a sentence more expressive. As it was mentioned in the comment you shouldn't use it in speech in the USA

  • You should probably mention what English varieties use this phrase. Your example seems to be from Africa. OP's is from Russia. I think you might be understood but you'd at least get weird looks if you used this phrase when speaking to an American. – The Photon Jul 20 '16 at 4:59

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