Spain beat Tahiti 10-0 in their Confederations Cup group-stage match to set a new record for margin of victory in a FIFA senior tournament. Though a decisive win for Spain was an inevitability, part of the reason the score got to be that lopsided was the mostly amateur Tahitian players' refusal to just sit back and defend against their supremely talented opponents. They tried to attack instead of parking the bus, as far better teams often do against Spain. They didn't play scared (or pragmatically), they just played.
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As a result, Fernando Torres led Spain with four goals in the game. That makes him the tournament's top scorer, so it probably shouldn't be a surprise that he appreciated the positive and porous nature of Tahiti's play and declared them an example for other teams to follow. Because winning every match 10-0 really would be great for Spain.
"They are the example for other teams," Torres told reporters after accepting the Man-of-the-Match award for his four-goal haul.
"They tried to play football and although the result proved there is a massive difference between the teams, that was not the most important thing. The most important thing was it was sporting contest.
"All of us have become big fans of that team. We have all had our photos taken together - it was a joy to play in that match and not just because we won so easily, but because they were sporting and despite losing they played with a smile on their faces from the first kick to the last."
Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque added to Torres' sentiment by saying that Tahiti were "noble opponents" and that "it was humbling to play them." Tahiti boss Eddy Etraeta, however, explained that he and his players were a bit more critical of their own performance. Because it's easier to argue the nobility of a record thumping when you're not the one getting thumped.
"Of course we were never going to win, but some of the goals we conceded were a bit naive and we could have done better," Etaeta told reporters.
"But we have won a major victory here by winning the hearts of the Brazilian public.
"I think its fair to say we are better known in Brazil than we are in Tahiti.
Tahiti were undoubtedly had more support at the Maracana as the Brazilians resented both Spain's possession heavy style of play and the success it's brought them. But even if Tahiti aren't praised at home, they've certainly won over a legion of fans — some patronizing, others genuine —around the world.
Fernando Torres, meanwhile, now has twice as many goals as Brazil's Neymar in the Confederations Cup after playing half as many matches. And that's even with Torres missing a penalty in the second half against Tahiti. Clearly this is all the sample size necessary to see that he's worth far more than Barcelona's €57 million signing.
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