New Caledonia took the win against Tahiti after a five-goal first half and a defensively solid second part.
(Tahiti – New Caledonia 2-4)
An explosive first half that had five goals in it was the best start to the Francophone derby that anyone could have hoped for.
It was almost a dream start for the hosts as they had a ball sail just wide of the post after less than ten seconds.
After that it was Tahiti who had the most of the ball, but the first fifteen minutes were hampered by the ball being out of play.
Then, in a six-minute period, New Caledonia struck.
First Kamene Xowie broke away on the left side and put the ball in the net from a tight angle in the 19th minute, then youngster Jackie Pahoa caught Tahiti keeper Vahinerii Puraga way off her line and sent the ball over her and into the goal.
Pahoa then got a brace as she was released down the left side and ran away from everyone to slot home New Caledonia’s third in the 25th minute.
That got Tahiti to wake up. Only two minutes later, they pulled one back in spectacular style. A free kick was curled in and from close range Tahia Tamarii hit the ball with a diving header.
Then, just one the stroke of half time Ninauea Hioe decided she’d do it herself. She got around two New Caledonian defenders and smashed the ball home from just outside the box.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Tahiti were unlucky not to draw level a minute later as Tamarii tried a flying sideways volley from a corner kick. Somehow New Caledonia keeper Lorenza Hnamano got a hand to it and pushed it onto the crossbar.
The second half started like the first, with a lot of waiting for play to be restarted. Then it went downhill for Tahiti as their two goalscorers Tamarii and Hioe had to be substituted off with injuries ten minutes apart.
Tahiti got more into the game with 20 minutes remaining, after New Caledonia were the better side in the first part of the half. But it still took them quite a while to generate a chance worth mentioning.
But as the game entered the final ten minutes all hope was broken for Tahiti.
New Caledonia combined beautifully to pass through the Tahiti defence. Aurélie Lalie was the one who got the honour to slot home the ball for New Caledonia, to give them a two goal cushion.
Thaiti thought they had managed to pull back to a one-goal deficit again, but the goal was correctly disallowed for an offside.
New Caledonia never let Tahiti back in after that and they have now joined Papua New Guinea at the top of the table.