In Depth

Proud Tahiti the toast of the Maracana, as Spain win 10-0

Pacific Islanders take the game to their illustrious opponents and win over Brazilian fans

Spain 10 Tahiti 0. Spain, the greatest team in the world, scored ten goals in the Maracana, the most famous stadium in the world, but when the final whistle sounded in Rio, the Brazilian crowd rose not to salute the likes of Fernando Torres and David Villa, but to laud their little-known opponents, Tahiti. The Pacific Islanders, Oceania's representatives at the Confederations Cup, came through the most daunting and rigorous test that football can provide with their heads held high. And the Brazilian fans loved them for it. At the end of the game, Spain showed grace and tact, quietly leaving the scene and allowing the Tahitians to lap up the adulation of the 72,000 fans in a stadium that will host the World Cup final next season. The game had been billed as the greatest mismatch in the history of football. The team of part-timers from the South Pacific, which included just one professional, had never before played a European nation, let alone a team of anything like Spain's calibre. And they were facing them in a legendary stadium that once had a capacity greater than their island's entire population. They were unfazed by a situation that most footballers can only dream of and set about providing Spain with a challenge. Things did not start well, but when Fernando Torres scored in the fifth minute the floodgates did not open. Tahiti refused to buckle and after half an hour it was still only 1-0 to the world champions. The Pacific Islanders did not sit back and simply try to stop the Spanish, they went looking for an equaliser, prompting mild hysteria in the stands. But three more Spanish goals in the final minutes of the half left the scoreline looking more realistic. But Tahiti were not steamrollered in the manner many expected. Against Uruguay, Spain had 77 per cent of the possession in the first half. Against Tahiti it was 63 per cent, a figure that most teams in the world would be happy with. It was a similar story in the second half. Tahiti carried on playing and had their fair share of the ball, but Spain racked up the goals. Torres notched four and David Villa scored a hat-trick. There were two for David Silva and one for Juan Mata. But the biggest cheer of the half came when Torres missed a penalty. The game was "more of an occasion than a match in many respects, and the fans created a superb atmosphere in the newly-refurbished Maracana," reports The Guardian. "They cheered every Tahiti pass and tackle and roundly booed Spain." Afterwards Torres paid tribute to the Tahitians. "Often lesser teams look to break up the game and get aggressive. They play without spirit or hope," he said. "Tahiti showed a great example of how to go about playing football."

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