Despite Tahiti’s early goal Papua New Guinea fought their way back into the match to take all three points for the third time.
(Papua New Guinea – Tahiti 3-1)
Before the match, everything was clearly laid out. Papua New Guinea were through to the Semi Finals no matter the result and Tahiti had to win to even stand a chance of going through.
And it was the Francophone nation who started the game with a bang. Hanihei Taumaa sent away a shot from just outside the box. PNG keeper Faith Kasiray got her hand to it but couldn’t stop it from going in and the underdog took the lead just six minutes into the match.
Tahiti then kept control of the match and PNG only had some easily saved shots and despite using their speed well up front, never seemed to threaten much.
Tahiti coach Stephanié Spielmann had made a strategic bold move and deployed her captain Heimirii Alvarez, who had played striker in the previous two matches, as a centre back.
Despite her lack of pace Alvarez did a very solid job at the back, reading the play well and making strong tackles. However, the captain would make a fatal mistake in the 31st minute.
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A shot was saved by Puraga but fell to Alvarez and the captain took just a little too long to clear the ball out of the box. Selina Unamba pounced on the ball and struck it into the far top corner to draw PNG level.
The sides went to the dressing rooms at half time all locked, and to much surprise it was the Tahitians who should probably have felt a little unlucky to only be drawing.
Jekyll and Hyde for Tahiti
In the second half PNG came out starting off strong and had the most of the ball, yet the first big chance fell to Tahiti.
A defensive mistake by PNG allowed Carole Teotahi to break through one-on-one with Kasiray, but she seemed to slip slightly just as she shot and the young PNG goalkeeper dove to save the ball.
Just past the hour mark PNG had their first big chance of the half as a Ramona Padio shot was saved by Puraga. The following corner was headed just over the bar.
In the 74th minute, PNG got a free kick just outside the Tahiti box. Padio stepped up and calm as you like curled the ball low around the wall and into the corner. Puraga was perhaps just caught on the wrong foot and the four-strong wall could have used another player, but it was a good free kick nonetheless.
Then in the 83rd minute Padio was through but got showed by Alvarez in the box and the referee gave a correct penalty to PNG. Padio took it herself and scored despite Puraga diving the right way. But the penalty had to be retaken as Meagan Gunemba went into the box before it was taken. A good decision by the referee.
The second attempt went to the other side of the goal and Puraga was after this one as well, but the shot from Padio was too hard and PNG got themselves a two-goal cushion.
Tahiti never got back in the match and are out of the tournament, while PNG gets maximum points with them into the Semi Final where they will meet the second best team in Group B.