Uruguay blows out Tahiti 8-0 in final group stage match
RECIFE, Brazil (AP) -- 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 Confederations Cup semifinals.
The Uruguayans, who started without strikers Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani and Suarez, will play Brazil in the semifinals Wednesday in Belo Horizonte.
"Fortunately for us, what had to happen, happened,'' Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said.
Tahiti, a team of mostly amateurs that drew boisterous support from the Brazilian fans for the third straight game, was outscored 24-1 at the tournament. But when the match ended, the Tahitian substitutes walked onto the field carrying Brazilian flags, drawing another massive round of cheers.
When they unfurled a large green-and-white banner that said "Obrigado Brasil,'' or "Thank You Brazil,'' 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.''
Abel Hernandez scored a first-half hat trick and added a penalty kick in the second half. Luis Suarez scored two goals and Diego Perez and Nicolas Lodeiro had the others.
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 came on a header 79 seconds into the match at the Arena Pernambuco. It is the fastest in the history of the World Cup warmup tournament, according to FIFA.
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 kick came in the 67th and Suarez added the seventh in the 82nd and the final goal in the 90th.
Tahiti managed to create a few chances. Perhaps the best came when Marama Vahirua, the team's only professional 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 islanders still play an attractive, attack-minded soccer 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 its three matches.
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.
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