Champs Russia edge brave Tahiti to final
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World champions Russia have won through to their second successive final but only after a hugely tense comeback 5-3 win against an unlucky Tahiti.

Tahiti were aiming to become the first current OFC nation to reach a FIFA final, while conversely Russia were seeking to retain the crown they won two years ago in Ravenna.

The match marked the first time that the reigning champions have met the host nation in a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. And the Papeete crowd were soon living through every challenge and shot on goal.

Tahiti were unfortunately shorn of two key players due to suspension in Heimanu Taiarui and Raimana Li Fung Kuee.

An intense but somewhat scrappy first third remained largely without goalscoring incident until Dmitrii Shishin dispossessed Teva Zaveroni with three minutes remaining, only for the Tahiti defender to foul his opponent with the Russian scoring his eighth of the tournament from the resultant free-kick.

Zaveroni nearly made immediate amends only to direct his spectacular overhead kick wide.

The mood changed instantly after the break with Patrick Tepa hitting home a stunning strike from near the sideline two seconds into the middle period.

Russia though stepped up the intensity and Shishin again provided the telling moment, and again it came after Tahiti turned over possession.

Tahiti equalised almost immediately though they received a slice of luck with Raimoana Bennett’s shot deflected luckily past the goalkeeper.

Any luck Tahiti may have enjoyed soon dissipated as Tepa was sent off for diving, controversially in the mind of the baying crowd.

Crucially Tahiti survived their allotted two minutes playing a man short.

Heiarii Tavanae then hit the post and after the break, and Marama Amau did likewise as the home side tried to turn up the heat on the world champs.

Naea Bennet then deflected in goalkeeper Jonathan Torohia’s long-range effort and Tahiti were ahead for the first time with ten minutes remaining.

However, Alexey Makarov created something from nothing to draw his side level with three and a half minutes remaining, and then broke Tahiti hearts with another soon after.

Shishin ended the match as a contest with a contender for goal of the tournament volleying over Torohia’s head from his own half.