Hosts Tahiti have created a slice of history by becoming the first current Oceania nation to move into the semi-finals of a FIFA tournament with a stirring 6-1 win over South American champions Argentina in front of a widely enthusiastic Papeete crowd.
A predictably tough opening saw few chances at either end before Heimanu Taiarui collected a loose ball at the end of a fine passing movement to give Tahiti the early advantage.
The match then saw a controversial moment with home side defender Angelo Tchen suffering a head injury, eventually resulting in a red card for Santiago Hilaire.
Argentina were forced to play two minutes a man down, and from the resultant free-kick Taiarui hit the inside of the post with the ball narrowly bouncing away to safety. The South Americans somehow stoutly hung on until the first break without conceding despite their numerical inferiority.
Tahiti started the second period with incredible momentum. They saw a shot cleared off the line and missed two clear chances, most notably Tearii Labaste with a point-blank header.
Four minutes into the period Ezequiel Hilaire equalised from the penalty spot to draw Argentina level in what was the only scoring during a hugely tense middle period.
The theatre continued in the final period with local icon Naea Bennett scoring Tahiti’s second with a typical back post header early on.
And the Tahitian dream moved a step closer when Heimanu Taiarui forced his shot through the goalkeeper’s hands for his second of the night. Celebrations were dampened slightly, however with the defender receiving his second caution of the tournament for his excessive celebrations.
Tahiti went 4-1 clear with eight minutes remaining as Raimoana Bennett sensationally scored with a close-range bicycle kick.
The contest was surely over midway through the final period as Raimana Li Fung Kuee converted with a classy finish, typical of the No7’s form in the tournament.
Heiarii Tavanae added further to the local joy with a goal in the dying seconds.