Photo: 2013 Confederation Cup
Spain’s national soccer team set records Thursday for the biggest margin of victory in a FIFA Confederations Cup match and in this Brazilian metropolis’s iconic Maracana stadium by trouncing lowly Tahiti 10-0.
Spain rested its biggest stars, including Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, but the talent gap was still enormous between the defending World Cup champions and Tahiti, a team with only one professional soccer player on its roster.
Fernando Torres and David Villa, who play for Chelsea and FC Barcelona, respectively, led the way for Spain, scoring four goals and three goals, respectively.
Tahiti kept things respectable for the first half hour and trailed just 1-0 until the floodgates opened.
Between the 31st minute and halftime, Spain got goals from Torres, Villa and Manchester City standout David Silva; then it piled on six more in the second half: a pair each by Torres and Villa, one by Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata and the last by Silva in the 89th minute.
Although Tahiti could not pose any challenge to the Spanish team, Torres praised its players’ good sportsmanship.
Spain sought to be “respectful (with Tahiti) in every sense, to play well and score goals,” the striker told the Telecinco television network minutes after the match ended.
He added that “often we’ve had the experience with lower-level teams that they try to hinder play, be aggressive. Whereas Tahiti is a clear example of wanting to play soccer.”
Spain bested what had been the largest margin of victory in this international competition - an 8-2 win by Brazil over Saudi Arabia in 1999.
It also set a new record at Maracana, where previously the largest margin of victory had been Brazil’s 7-0 shellacking of Chile in 1959.
The squad still fell short, however, of the Spanish national team’s most lopsided victory - a 13-0 pummeling of Bulgaria in a friendly in 1933.
Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia with a population of less than 200,000 people, qualified for the Confederations Cup as the representative of Oceania by winning the 2012 OFC Nations Cup.
Uruguay and Nigeria also are in Group B, while host Brazil, Mexico, Japan and Italy are battling for semifinal berths in Group A.
Spain, which has virtually assured itself of a spot in the Confederations Cup semifinals after wins over Uruguay and Tahiti, will play its last Group B match on Sunday against Nigeria.