Disallowed goals, Sturdy defence, record-breaking goals: Five points that prove Ecuador dominated Qatar in FIFA World Cup opener
It was a fest for football fans at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar, with the hosts losing to Ecuador 2-0 in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2022 on Sunday, November 20. Their skipper Enner Valencia scored both goals for his team, and in doing so, became their leading goalscorer at the mega event!
Disallowed goal spurred them on
Ecuador were in front three minutes into the World Cup opener after the skipper headed in from close range following an acrobatic cross from Felix Torres. After a video review of about two minutes, Ecuadorian celebrations were cut short when the goal was ruled out for what appeared to be a marginal offside. This, however, did not deter the South Americans, who used the disappointment to spur them on.
Enner Valencia at his best
The 33-year-old striker, who has also played in the Premier League with West Ham United and Everton, was at his best for his team. He scored twice, first in the 16th minute when Valencia was tripped by Saad Alsheeb after rounding the goalkeeper, who was booked for the challenge. Valencia was nonchalant as he trotted up and converted the spot kick into the bottom corner. Valencia's second goal came in the 33rd minute by heading in a right-wing cross from Angelo Preciado.
Valencia started the game as his country's joint-leading World Cup goalscorer along with Agustin Delgado on three and wasted no time in setting a new record. Having found the back of the net three times in Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, he has now scored each of Ecuador's past five World Cup goals. Eusebio (Portugal 1966), Paolo Rossi (Italy 1982) and Oleg Salenko (Russia 1994) hold the record of scoring six in a row.
Ecuador kept their seventh straight clean sheet, a record that includes three wins and four draws. With Qatar's passes often going astray and its defensive raggedness repeatedly exposed, Ecuador had no problem holding onto their lead as Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez stood helpless in his technical area and the home fans fell quiet. Meanwhile, Gustavo Alfaro's side have now kept seven consecutive clean sheets, with bigger tests to come against Netherlands and Senegal.
Ignominy for Qatar
After their loss, Qatar have become the first host nation to lose their opening game at that edition of the World Cup. The side did not pose a threat, but Almoez Ali somehow nodded wide from close range right on the stroke of half-time. Qatar were devoid of ideas and Mohammed Muntari fired over when a rare chance came late on as Ecuador eased to victory, although there was a concern when Valencia was withdrawn with 15 minutes to go seemingly still being troubled by that knee problem.