15-year-old Sataraka the centre of attention in 5-all draw
Samoa’s wild 5-all draw in their second game of the OFC Nations Cup against Tahiti had a bit of everything.
Perhaps lucky to escape a red card for lashing out in retaliation, 15-year-old striker Sina Sataraka ended up with a hattrick.
A crazy start set the tone for the match, with two goals for each team coming inside seven minutes of play.
Tahitian forward Carole Teotahi bagged two for her country, with Sataraka and Mariah Bullock scoring for Samoa.
Tahiti added a third goal in the 10th minute to Hanihei Taumaa, and things finally settled into a pattern.
Samoa looked to play long balls forward the entire game for the pacey 15-year-old Sataraka to chase, while Tahiti played more of a possession game.
Samoan Mariecamilla Ah Ki smashed a thunderbolt free kick inside the near post, making it 3-3 in the 21st minute.
With Tiare Tuimavave and Hana Malo bossing the midfield and Sataraka a constant threat in behind, Samoa looked well set to play an effective counter-attacking game.
Number one goalkeeper and captain Ronisa Lipi returned from injury and added solidity to the backline, her great one-on-one save in the 27th minute was a real highlight.
A goal from Ninauea Hioe before halftime meant Tahiti took a one goal lead into the major break.
Teotahi scored again early in the second half to complete her own hattrick, with tempers beginning to flare.
Sataraka threw what could have been a punch in the 60th minute against Lanihei Rua in retaliation for a clumsy tackle, and the pair as well as Samoa defender Moreva Mamea had to be separated.
Referee Tapaita Lelenga discussed the incident with assistant Heloise Simons, and all three players received yellow cards.
Now 5-3 down, Samoa still looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
Sataraka got in behind then finished well from outside the box for her second and Samoa’s fourth, and it was all on with ten minutes to play.
She was played through once more and calmly slotted past the keeper to complete her hattrick, and now Samoa were hunting the win.
Malo rocked the crossbar with a free kick from wide out in the final minutes of injury time, and that was the closest either team would come to winning.
The 5-5 draw leaves Samoa needing an unlikely big win over New Caledonia in their final group game to make the semi-final, depending on other results at the time of printing.