Recife (Brazil), Jun 24: Brazilian fans again screamed and cheered for Tahiti every step of the way, even as Uruguay pumped in goal after goal to beat the South Pacific islanders 8-0 Sunday and reach the semifinals of the Confederations Cup.
Abel Hernandez scored a first-half hat trick and added a penalty in the second half, while Luis Suarez scored two and Diego Perez and Nicolas Lodeiro added the others. But Tahiti goalkeeper Gilbert Meriel stopped it from getting worse by saving a penalty from Andres Scotti in the 50th minute.
One minute later, Scotti was sent off with a second yellow card.
Hernandez's first goal, a header which came 1 minute, 19 seconds into the match at the Arena Pernambuco, is the fastest to be scored in the history of the World Cup warm-up tournament, according to FIFA.
“Fortunately for us, what had to happen, happened,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said.
Hernandez added a second goal in the 24th, and Perez tapped in the third after his header had hit the post in the 27th. Hernandez made it 4-0 in first-half injury time. In the second half, Lodeiro scored in the 61st, Hernanzdez's penalty came in the 67th and Suarez added the seventh in the 82nd and the final goal in the 90th.
The Uruguayans, who started without strikers Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani and Suarez, will play Brazil in the semifinals on Wednesday in Belo Horizonte.
Tahiti, a team of mostly amateurs which drew boisterous support from the local Brazilian fans for the third straight match, was outscored 24-1 at the tournament.
But when the match ended, the Tahitian substitutes walked out onto the field carrying Brazilian flags, drawing another massive round of cheers.
When they unfurled a large green-and-white banner with “Obrigado Brasil,” or “Thank You Brazil,” on it, the cheers resumed.
“We've been really pleasantly surprised by the love shown to us by the Brazilian public. They've supported us to the end,” Tahiti forward Steevy Chong Hue said. “And we'd like to thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”
Tahiti even managed to create a few chances against Uruguay, perhaps the best when Marama Vahirua, the team's only professional football player, shot at Uruguay goalkeeper Martin Silva in the 34th for an easy save.
“My players really played with their souls, with all their hearts. This is what was important for us,” Tahiti coach Eddie Etaeta said. “At the end of the game today, they made a point of thanking the Brazilian public ... This is what we will take back with us from Brazil.
Earlier in the half, Tahiti defender Teheivarii Ludivion was given a yellow card in the eighth minute for bringing down Matias Aguirregaray, the first caution the team received at the tournament. He was sent off for a second yellow in the 59th.
The Tahitians, who qualified for the tournament by winning the Oceania Nations Cup, have been adopted by the Brazilian public.Completely outplayed in previous loses to Nigeria and Spain, the plucky islanders still play an attractive, attack-minded football despite the huge gap in ability with the other teams in the group.
Meriel, who dived to his left to stop Scotti's penalty and then scrambled to control the loose ball, was the third different goalkeeper to start for Tahiti in the team's three matches at the competition.
Xavier Samin played in the 6-1 loss to Nigeria in the opening match last Monday, and Mikael Roche was in goal for the 10-0 drubbing against Spain on Thursday.