THE DAY REPLAYED: After the deluge a comparable drought. A tournament which had been raining goals since the curtain went up four days ago suddenly mislaid the route to attacking avenues. But what a story the FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005 threw up today. Mexico 1 Brazil 0 is a scoreline that will send reverberations around the globe. One to be discussed, celebrated, remembered in every home where the Tricolour hangs proud. Twelve months ago Greece were experiencing those same joyful sensations but now there's only disappointment as their own 1-0 defeat against Japan sent the European champions spinning out of the competition.
It was a Mexican victory that opens up the possibility that by Thursday morning the Brazilian carnival might well be leaving town, to the huge disappointment of their legions of fans in Germany. Ronaldinho, Robinho and Co were put to the sword by a 31-year-old striker who plies his trade at a modest provincial club side in Mexico. This beautiful game just loves to reveal its egalitarian side from time to time.
The victory margin in Hanover could have been even greater because Ricardo Antonio Lavolpe's side also missed from the penalty spot. Of course there was a penalty the tournament demands it now with seven coming in the first six games. Tonight we had three all in the space of two minutes and not one of them counted. Jared Borgetti, fouled for the spot-kick decision, scored with the first only for it to be disallowed for encroachment. His second struck the bar yet referee Roberto Rosetti ordered another retake. His third was pushed wide by Dida.
Still, Mexico will settle for one goal without reply given that it delivers them a place in the semi-finals and given Brazil's status as kings of this footballing universe. Almost as happy were Japan who scored late on in Frankfurt to give them their first victory in the tournament and leave Greece to contemplate the grim statistics of played two, lost two, no goals. How even more unlikely does that unlikely UEFA European Championship triumph in Portugal last June now seem?
With Argentina and Germany booking their last-four berths last night with emphatic wins, the challenge was there for to Brazil to trump those impressive cards with another clinical dissection of a hapless opponent. Just as they had managed first time out when taking a bulldozer to Greek confidence.
It was not to be. Mexico emerged from this clash of familiar foes with heads held high and chests puffed out. A deft flick of his forehead from prolific striker Borgetti did the damage and left Dida a loser on the day the Brazilian goalkeeper established a new FIFA Confederations Cup record with his 20th appearance, spread over five editions since 1997.
Mexico have suffered too many times at the hands of the Seleção not to savour this night for a very long time. Incredibly the countries had met 32 times before today. And in eight different official FIFA competitions as well as two continental championships which must represent something of a record for teams residing in different federations.
Mostly Brazil have had the upper hand. At three FIFA World Cup finals - in 1950, 1954 and 1962 - Mexico were sent on their way out of the tournament after facing the South Americans. But El Tri did have one famous victory under their belts, the incredible FIFA Confederations Cup final of 1999, staged in Mexico and won by Mexico 4-3 in front of an ecstatic Azteca stadium crowd.
Now they have two memorable triumphs to push against the weight of Brazilian domination. All thanks to a less-heralded performer who is happy to play his trade at the Pachuca club in his home country, while the likes of Adriano and Ronaldinho pursue Europe's big money. The Brazilian stars could not shine to anywhere near the extent that they did against Greece. Their opposition held an impressive line at the back and permitted few intruders. Behind them Oswaldo Sanchez, the Anheuser Busch Man of the Match, was security itself.
There is no such rich history as far as today's other opponents are concerned. Greece and Japan had never met but went at each other like traditional rivals, with spirit and verve. The FIFA Confederations Cup appeared to be heading for its first draw as the three-quarter mark passed with the teams locked at 0-0. Then a deft pass from Shunsuke Nakamura, another Anheuser Busch Man of the Match, paved the way for substitute Masashi Oguro to fire Japan to victory.
Now Brazil face Japan in Cologne for the right to fill the last semi-final vacancy. Could Brazil be about to repeat France 2003 when they were knocked out in the first round? A laughable notion three days ago. Not so strange now.