The first semi-final has produced a classic with Tahiti winning 7-3 over Fiji at the Bruce Pulman Arena in Auckland.
In a match that ebbed and flowed throughout with changes in momentum, the Tahitian side never trailed and won through to a decider against New Zealand or the Solomon Islands who play the second semi-final this evening.
Tahiti created the first opening in the second minute when Vincent Tinomoe fired against the post before Fijian keeper Kitione Baleloa pulled off a super save to deny Tetuanui Tinomoe.
Tahiti deservedly took the lead in the 7th minute when captain Akareva Riaria blasted past Baleloa.
However, four minutes later Fiji were level when Gabriele Matanisiga pounced on a rebound to beat Tahiti’s goalkeeper Puarea Roe. The momentum of the game had shifted and Matanisiga came close moments later before Ramzan Khan forced a diving save from Roe.
Against the run of play Tahiti took the lead again with captain Riaria grabbing his second, side footing the ball past a crowded Fijian defence into the goal in the 13th minute.
Roe then pulled off a blinder to deny Fijian captain Filipe Baravilala an equaliser with five minutes remaining in the half.
Fijian keeper Baleloa was red carded for a late challenge on Vincent Tinomoe and his side was forced to play the next two minutes with four players and the Tahiti skipper Riaria made the extra plater count after a patient buildup he fired the ball into the left-hand corner of the net for his hat-trick.
Fiji were forced to play third choice Beniamino Mateinaqara in goal after first choice keeper Emori Ragata was injured during the final Group match against Vanuatu.
Restored to their full complement, Fiji stunned Tahiti on the break with Dave Radrigai pulling a goal back just before the break.
And just after the break Fiji were level, thanks to a wonderful right foot strike from their skipper Baravilala.
Riaria should have had his fourth goal for Tahiti three minutes into the second half but couldn’t direct his shot past Roe.
Fiji came closes twice in a minute to taking the lead in the 28th minute as first Matanisiga blasted against the post and then Tevita Waranivalu did the same within seconds of each other.
Matanisiga again went close with less than nine minutes remaining before Tahiti hit the front on the break with a classy finish from Tetuanui Tinomoe and then the skipper scored his fourth. Fiji took off their keeper in search of an equaliser but turned over the ball and Tinomoe scored a second before Olivier Hirihiri scored to wrap up the win for Tahiti.
Tahiti: 7 (Akareva RIARIA 7’, 13’, 18’, 38′, Tetuanui TINOMOE 32’, 39′, Olivier HIRIHIRI 40′)
Fiji: 3 (Gabriele MATANISIGA 9’, Dave RADRIGAI 20’, Filipe BARAVILALA 21’)