Italy came back from 2-0 down to beat Japan 4-3 in a manic and riveting display of footballing peculiarity (full match highlights here). Japan put in an impressive effort and probably deserved a result, but instead the loss sealed their elimination from the Confederations Cup while ensuring that Italy advance to the semifinals. The match was entertaining enough to more than justify the normally less than important tournament's existence and it also leads us to ask that old question: "What if it continued?"
97' -- Still confused about what constitutes a penalty, the referee awards one to each team when he coughs and sneezes at the same time.
101' -- Mario Balotelli resists the urge to remove his shirt and make everyone wait while he reads poetry to himself.
106' -- Japan hit the post with eight consecutive shots. Time and space begin to break down. Shinji Kagawa turns into a pterodactyl.
112' -- Keisuke Honda continues to prove that no one will make fun of you for having bleached blond hair like it's still 1998 if you're really good at football.
118' -- Fatigued and not playing up to his usual impecable standard, bearded Andrea Pirlo tastes the unrelenting cruelty of the aging process. Like gold bars in a bank vault, the value of his talent is still undeniable, he reassures himself. He then concludes that the bank's hours have changed and they're no longer as accommodating to his withdraw schedule. He plays on.
123' -- To make up for his own goal in the 50th minute, Atsuto Uchida tries to convince Sebastian Giovinco that the Confederations Cup rules state that own goals count as bonus points in the following World Cup and anyone who scores them also gets free candy.
126' -- With melting candle sticks for legs, Bearded Pirlo considers his own mortality and the tedium of retirement that awaits him on a no longer distant horizon. He sees a vision of his fortified compound high in Alps, where his most trusted ally — a goat called Davide — impatiently awaits his return. Davide uses his front hoof to leaf through a pop culture magazine even though he is a goat and is unfamiliar with human celebrities. Bearded Pirlo plays on.
130' -- Sebastian Giovinco scores an own goal and asks the linesman for Skittles.
134' -- Remembering that he still has the ultimate source of his autumnal strength encasing his jawline, Bearded Pirlo breaks his self-imposed vow of silence to defiantly shout Davide's name. He jumps on the back of pterodactyl Shinji Kagawa and rides off into the night, feeling a renewed thirst for revenge against Spain that will drive him onward. If the bank is closed, he decides he'll just break in.
139' -- The match is abandoned when Mario Balotelli is shown 12 yellow cards and awarded 17 penalties for keeping his shirt on as everyone flees in terror when the bearded man with a thousand miles in his eyes swoops down to give his teammates a ride back to the hotel.