[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] Watching the Italian champion Juventus facing Everton of the English Premier League at the home of the World Series champions in California becomes even stranger when a fan runs on the field during penalty kicks to try his luck against America's top keeper.
AT&T Park in San Francisco is probably Major League Baseball’s most picturesque setting, and as I sat with my newfound friends from Italy, Ethiopia and Montenegro behind the center field wall preparing for penalty kicks everyone was still buzzing about Kwadwo Asamoah’s prodigious blast into left field to tie the ballgame in the eighth inning, also known as an 80th minute golazo, into the net, Juventus was attacking.
Asamoah was one of the only regulars, besides the incredible Arturo Vidal, whom Juve coach Antonio Conte fielded in his starting lineup. Stars like Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Paul Pogba never took the field at all.
Everton’s new coach, Roberto Martinez, fielded more regulars with Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines, Kevin Mirallas and Tim Howard all in the starting lineup, and Mirallas’ opening goal was another bright spot in a game that could've used more.
Regulation ended 1-1, and the teams went to penalty kicks. Everton missed an early penalty, which appeared to be setting the table for a highly anticipated Andrea Pirlo vs. Tim Howard showdown for the all-important win in July during the Guinness International Champions Cup in America, as Conte offered a grateful San Francisco 20 minutes of Pirlo’s beard flowing on the field as a sub.
Everton won the shootout on a save by Howard, as Pirlo went on to miss a penalty that would’ve won this game, a game that could have only been more surreal if a field invader had rushed the field and showed us all how easy it is to beat a world class keeper.
Fortunately, Tim Howard brought the entire night back into perspective…