Ecuador stun Qatar in the World Cup opening match, breaking the tournament’s deadlock
Qatar 0-2 Ecuador: Valencia scores twice as hosts lose in World Cup opening match
At the opening of the World Cup tournament, Ecuador easily defeated Qatar 2-0 with two goals from Enner Valencia. Still, Qatar’s historic night was marred by a series of mistakes that made them the first World Cup hosts to lose their first game.
Valencia scored an early penalty and added a well-taken 31st-minute header to give the South Americans a commanding first-half lead as the Qataris looked overcome by the significance of the occasion.
In front of 67,372 fans at the Al Bayt Stadium, the hosts’ situation may have been considerably worse if Valencia, 33, had not had a third-minute header disallowed for a slight offside when goalkeeper Saad al-Sheeb flapped at the ball.
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Al-Sheeb later fouled Valencia while the Ecuadorian was in the box and then dove the wrong way as Valencia calmly converted the ensuing penalty in the 16th minute.
In order to accept Angelo Preciado’s cross practically from behind him and head past al-Sheeb once more, Valencia had to be unmarked, but he still displayed excellent technique.
Qatar appeared to be largely toothless despite having an enviously long amount of time to connect and train together, including summer camps in Europe. The best opportunity for Almoez Ali came at the end of the first half when he headed wide but was later ruled offside.
In the final seconds, Mohammed Muntari also missed a shot.
Qatar’s chances of earning points or making it out of the group stage appear minimal given that both teams now have to play Senegal and the Netherlands.
Ecuador hopes to improve upon their best World Cup performance, which came in 2006 when they advanced to the round of 16.