WHAT A GAME... It will not feel like it to the Azzurri but that was one of the most exciting World Cup games you could hope to witness. For long periods it was broken up by poor tackles and slow play but once it got going, was off the charts for excitement. It is a sad end for the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso - all Italian legends, all perhaps destined never to pull on the blue of Italy again. For Marcello Lippi too, this campaign will sour what he achieved in 2006 with the Italian media pasting the national manager in the last two weeks. Who knows how bad it will get for Lippi in the coming days? The real tragedy for Italy is that they showed us in twenty frenetic minutes what they were capable of... Di Natale and Quagliarella both superb but where was this football in the previous two games and seventy minutes? Slovakia were brilliant, especially in the first half and beginning of the second, and finally justified their progression to the last 16 after two lacklustre performances. Vittek will be the hero of the day but spare a thought for Martin Skrtel's contribution, who made an unwitting goal line clearance when it was 1-0. The post-game analysis will centre on whether the ball crossed the line but nothing can change the result for either side. Slovakia 3 Italy 2.
ALL OVER That's it... the dream is over. Italy finish 3-2 down and out of this World Cup.
JUST WIDE There is time wasting going on here and Howard Webb is under a lot of pressure here... from a free-kick, Pepe crashes wide. Unless Webb is adding time on for all the time wasting, that could have been the last chance of the game
ONE MORE GOAL Paraguay v New Zealand has ended goalless so one of these teams WILL go through. If the score stays like this it will be Slovakia, if Italy score, it will be the reigning World Champions....
GOOOAALLLL!!!!! This game has gone crazy... Italy are back in it - they have three minutes to get one more goal... Quagliarella with an absolutely gorgeous and composed chip past Jan Mucha and into the net. Do the Italians dare to dream?
GOOOAALLLL!!!!! We said earlier that Italy were leaving the back door open and so it proved as World Cup debutant, Kamil Kopunek, scores with his first touch of the competition, latching on to a bouncing ball and slotting over Marchetti who went down far too easily. All over for Italy now...
TOO CLOSE TO CALL That offside decision was so, so close - as is the result of this game. If there was half an hour left, you would feel sure Italy or Slovakia could score another... but with seconds left?
OFFSIDE - GOAL DENIED Italy have the ball in the back of the net via Di Natale again but the goal is disallowed for offside from Quagliarella. This is almost unbearable to watch. Why have Italy left it until now to play like this??
DOWN TO THE WIRE If the score remains the same in Group F's other game, Italy just need to equalise to go through here... Italy are committing so many men forward you feel a goal has to come - for one side or the other
POST GOAL DRAMA A clutch of players ended up in the back of the net and Quagliarella went down like he had been shot. Replays suggest it was 'simulation' as he received no blow in the face - but that is what he went down holding...
GOOAAAALLLL!!!! Italy have gone and pulled one back... it was a good move and it was all made by Quagliarella whose shot is palmed out to Di Natale and the little attacker slots home. GAME ON!!
PEPE LUCKY Pepe shows signs of frustration, going right through the back of a Slovakian midfielder. He was lucky to only receive a caution...
URGENCY All of a sudden Italy are going at this game hell-for-leather - why has it taken until now to see this?
GOOAAAALLLL!!!! That is surely the nail in the coffin of Italy's World Cup dream - and the beginning of their post-World Cup nightmare. Vittek poking past Marchetti at the near post after a great ball from the flank. 2-0 to Slovakia.
JUST WIDE Slovakia are still dangerous and with the game more stretched, they break but Stoch, with a great opportunity to score, puts his shot just over the right hand side of post and bar.
ITALY GETTING BETTER That was so close to a goal fro Italy - Skrtel wa stood stationary on the line and Quagliarella's shot just hit the Liverpool defender who unwittingly saved his side from conceding. Pirlo has not done a lot in open play but has drawn that much attention from the Slovakian's, perhaps there is now a little more space for the rest of the Azurri midfield.
OFF THE LINE! Pirlo's cross from a short corner lands for Quagliarella who volleys on target - but straight at Martin Skrtel who clears off the line. Close - very close...
GOOD MOVE Italy put their first good move together since - well maybe since the game kicked off. Di Natale plays a one-two and then has a dig from the edge of the area but it is an easy height for Jan Mucha who parries the ball and claims second time of asking.
PIRLO-WATCH There is an audible cheer every time Pirlo gets on the ball but so far he has delivered very little - remember however, he is not just a sensational playmaker, he is also a master of the free-kick.
MIGHT ONLY NEED ONE GOAL With proceedings still goalless between Paraguay and New Zealand, Italy would only need one goal here to proceed... providing they don't concede that is
POOR Stoch has the chance to put Italy under pressure with a free-kick from the left but his ball doesn't beat the first man.
PIRLO ON No surprise here as Andrea Pirlo joins the fray for Montolivo. The midfield maestro was Italy's best player in 2006 - if anything they need him even more now...
CHANCE Di Natale has the first genuine chance of the half but his swivel and shot from an angle is poor and the ball goes wide. Disappointing.
STALEMATE This game has slowed to a walking pace. Andrea Pirlo is warming up on the sideline and Italy need his invention here and now.
TIME WASTING Quagliarella shoulder charges, keeper Jan Mucha as he goes to get the ball for a goal kick and the Slovakian hits the deck theatrically. Howard Webb is having none of it but we could see a lot of this 'gamesmanship' in the second half...
MORE CONFIDENT Italy certainly look more confident so far - but it will need to translate it into end product quickly
WILL IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE So, Lippi has made the change he had to make, the question is will it be enough to save his side from the ignominy of heading out of this competition at the group stages...
ITALY CHANGES Domenico Criscito and Gennaro Gattuso make way for Christian Maggio and striker Fabio Quagliarella as Lippi changes to a 4-4-2.
WE'RE UNDERWAY The second half is underway
AMAZING On the evidence so far, this Italy team are deservedly heading out of this competition - although one suspects if that is the case, Italy will be the last place they will want to go with the inevitable media storm. If Marcello Lippi has one chance to earn his chips, this is it. Whether it's a team talk to last in the memory or an inspired substitution - he has GOT to change something. For Slovakia, it will be continue as is and adapt to whatever Italy do. They have been the better side so far and it would be no surprise if they added more goals if the game continues as it has. Slovakia 1, Italy 0 - the World Champions are in desperate trouble and have 45mins to save their campaign.
HALF TIME Howard Webb blows for half time with Slovakia 1-0 up
JUST WIDE Vittek again proves a handful for Cannavaro and co. - juggling the ball and then laying off for Kucka to leather a volley goal-wards from long range. It shaved the post and had Italy hearts in mouths...
BRAVE Amazing... Strba is stretchered off and Vladimir Weiss - on the advice of his medical team and the reaction of the players - looks to make a change but just as the board goes up, the brave Strba - perhaps sensing this could be an historic game for Slovakia - gets back on his feet and heads back onto the pitch. He will need heavily patching up at half time.
NASTY Gennaro Gattuso plays through the ball and catches Zdeno Strba on the shin with his studs leaving an extremely nasty gash on the Slovakian midfielder. It might be that he cannot continue because that cut is vicious...
JUST OVER... That is the closest Italy have gotten to a goal and it was a Slovakian defender who got the last touch - Martin Skrtel heading narrowly over his own crossbar.
YELLOW CARD Cannavaro and Vittek have been taking pops at each other all game and the Slovakian striker is cautioned for a nasty little tackle
CHANGES? If you are Marcello Lippi, maybe you need to start thinking about a change. His side look clueless out there and maybe the guile of Pirlo or the energy of Mauro Camoranesi could lift this side. The only player on the pitch who looks like he still wants to be there is midfield warrior Gennaro Gattuso.
GOOD SAVE Marchetti makes a good save as Strba takes a pot shot from all of 35-metres but the shot is clean, moves in the air and the keeper had to be alive to keep that one out.
LOST Italy look stunned and they might have to wait until half-time to regroup. This Slovakia side are no mugs defensively and will look to protect this lead while probing for another.
THE RAMIFICATIONS If Italy lose this game they will fail to make it out of the group stages for the first time since 1974... it is goalless in the other Group F game, which would mean that - if things stayed like this - Slovakia would be going through to the last-16.
AWFUL MISTAKE De Rossi is a massive player for Italy but that was so poor - his pass was casual at best and gave Kucka the chance to find Hamsik in acres of space - once again, Italy looked shocking in the heart of defence
GOOOAALLLL!!!!! Wow.... Italy Captain Daniel De Rossi makes a crucial error and the ball was teed up for Vittek who slots low into the bottom corner. The World Champions are a goal down... 1-0 to Slovakia
BITTY Ref Howard Webb is being drawn into this game far too much. Both sides need to calm down as this continuous disruption to the flow of the game is benefiting neither side.
COMFORTABLE CLAIM Pepe over-hits a pass for Iaquinta and it serves as a shot on-target but is easily claimed by Jan Mucha in the Slovakia goal.
STOP / START We have had free-kick after free-kick here with both sides keen in the tackle but similarly dramatic when on the wrong end of a challenge.
GOOD CHANCE AGAIN Hamsik and Vittek are a handful for this defence and looking very dangerous - this time it is Hamsik who turns provider, squaring with a super ball that would have found Vittek 2-yards out were it not for the intervention of Marchetti.
UP THE OTHER END... Slovakia have a free-kick from a similar position in the Italian half but the ball is too close to Marchetti and he punches clear. Must do better...
WASTED Di Natale sends in a free-kick from the left but it looks like an audition for Broadway in the box with players flinging themselves to the floor theatrically left, right and centre. As it was the delivery didn't beat the first man. These set-pieces could be vital for both sides and need to be exploited.
PRESSING Slovakia look a little short of ideas on the ball but they are certainly not lacking commitment and are pressing Italy all around the pitch impressively.
CHANCE Vittek flicks the ball on and lone striker Hamsik somehow bisects the entire Italy defence and volleys wide. That was a genuine chance and the defending was nothing short of dire.
SLOW START Slovakia were desperately slow against Paraguay and while they appear to be trying to pick the pace up here, they are hardly zipping the ball around with any great intent.
WHAT IS NEEDED Well, first off, Slovakia will need to be a lot more attacking than they have been in any game in this World Cup so far... they must win and hope results go their way elsewhere. A draw is not good enough. For Italy a win is what is required. A draw and they could still go through but that would leave them needing favours from Paraguay.
POSITIVE START Di Natale has a pop straight from the kick off but the ball goes wide. This could be an exciting old game...
AND WE'RE OFF This game gets underway at the Ellis Park Stadium
THE ANTHEMS There is a sense of anticipation around the stadium and the two anthems are greeted with great verve and the customary honk of the Vuvuzelas. Both teams look earnest but slightly nervous.
SLOVAKIA TEAM Vladimir Weiss makes four changes to his side and while progression is still mathematically possible, his first concern will surely be to get into this game and not let the Italian's get a good start. The Team: 1-Jan Mucha; 2-Peter Pekarik, 3-Martin Skrtel, 16-Jan Durica, 5-Radoslav Zabavnik, 6-Zdeno Strba, 15-Miroslav Stoch, 17-Marek Hamsik, 11-Robert Vittek, 19-Juraj Kucka, 18-Erik Jendrisek
ITALY TEAM Marcello Lippi has been unable to breathe much life into his ageing squad with the press baying for blood back home. Andrea Pirlo is fit enough to sit on the bench and his guile could be needed in the second half. The Team: 12-Federico Marchetti; 19-Gianluca Zambrotta, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 4-Giorgio Chiellini, 3-Domenico Criscito, 22-Riccardo Montolivo, 6-Daniele De Rossi, 8-Gennaro Gattuso, 9-Vincenzo Iaquinta, 7-Simone Pepe, 10-Antonio Di Natale
EARLY TEAM NEWS Fit-again midfielder Miroslav Stoch is likely to start for Slovakia, while defender Marek Cech is also pressing for a recall. Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo has recovered from a calf injury but may have to settle for a place on the bench.
PREVIEW If results go against Italy on Thursday they will fail to advance beyond the opening group stage at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1974. However, victory over Slovakia in Johannesburg would secure the Azzurri a place in the last 16. A goalless draw in the other Group F match between Paraguay and New Zealand would also see the Italians progress. If both matches are drawn with the same score, second place in the group will be settled by the drawing of lots. But Italy coach Marcello Lippi knows his players will be packing their bags for a flight back to Europe if they are beaten at Ellis Park.