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Tahiti in penalty shoot out heartache

In a match that finished 6-6 after regular time, then 7-7 after extra-time, the over-achieving host nation can be proud of its tournament.
Expected to be swatted aside with some degree of comfort by Brazil, Tahiti started the better of the two sides when Raimana Li Fung Kuee got the hosts off to the perfect start with the opener just 20 seconds after kick-off.
Tahitian joy lasted all of six minutes when Bruno Xavier levelled the match. Mesch restored Tahiti’s slender advantage only for Brazil to equalise courtesy of Daniel on 11 minutes.
From there Brazil took control of a scrappy and foul-punctuated encounter with Andre putting Brazil in front for the first time in the match 31 seconds later.
Eudin extended Brazil’s lead with first a long range free-kick and added his second of the game, his third of the tournament, on 18 minutes to make it 5-2 to convince most the CONMEBOL giants were well on the way to victory.
But Tahiti weren’t reading from the same script and scored two quickfire goals when first Taiarui scored followed by Li Fung Kuee who threw Tahiti a lifeline with an exquisite overhead kick on 20 minutes.
Brazil replied almost instantly when Jorghino lashed home a wonderful volley from the restart to make it 6-4.
But Tahitian resilience was not short in supply and Naea Bennett consolidated that impression with a close range finish on 32 minutes before Taiarui added another to lock the game up at 6-6.
Tensions reached breaking point when Brazil saw the first of three red cards as Bruno Xavier, then Bruno Malias, were each sent off, Xavier in normal time and Malias at the end of extra-time. Tahiti coach Angelo Schirinzi joined the pair in the stands after a persistent verbal exchange with the match officials.
The match headed into extra-time with the momentum clearly swinging in Tahiti’s favour yet Brazil managed to keep their cool and when Bruno Malias scored what seemed the winner with just 52 seconds left, Stade To’ata and its fans fell silent.
But that disappointment soon turned to unbridled joy when Bennett popped up with the latest of equalisers, heading beyond Brazil’s goalkeeper Mao with what proved to be the last act of open play to make it 7-7 and force a sudden death penalty shoot-out.
Tahiti’s hopes of repeating their upset victory over CONMEBOL opposition after beating Argentina 6-4 in the quarter-finals fell flat when Mao saved Raimana Li Fung Kuee’s penalty allowing Jorghino to slot home the winner and claim bronze for Brazil with a 1-0 sudden death penalty shoot-out win.
Tahiti and Australia are the only nations from the Oceania Football Confederation to advance as far as the semi-finals of any FIFA event.

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