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Ecuador beat host nation Qatar 2-0 in World Cup opener – SABC News

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Ecuador beat World Cup debutants Qatar 2-0 on Sunday with first-half goals from veteran striker Ener Valencia in a one-sided match that marked the hosts’ first opening game defeat in tournament history.

Ecuador’s all-time leading scorer, nicknamed ‘Superman’ at home, scored an early penalty and added a fine header in the 31st minute to give the South Americans a convincing first-half lead as his home nation froze in horror. .

It could have been worse for the hosts in front of a crowd of 67,372 at the tent-shaped Al Bait Stadium had Valencia not had a header disallowed in the third minute for a minor offside after wobbly goalkeeper Saad Alshib punched the ball away.

It was Alshyb who later teed up Valencia as he charged through on goal, then charged the wrong way as the Ecuadorian calmly converted the resulting penalty in the 16th minute.

In the second leg, Valencia was unmarked but still showed great technique to bend and take Angel Preciado’s cross from almost behind to head past Alshib again.

“I have dreamed so many times about winning this opening match. It was a dream that I managed to score and help my team get three points,” said Valencia.

“We managed to score some quick goals that helped us get control of the game and get the three points … We think we can go very far and do well.”

The 33-year-old scored all three of Ecuador’s goals in their last World Cup appearance in 2014, and Sunday’s brace cemented his status as a national hero.

TOOTHLESS CATAR

His second goal broke the Group A game into a contest and the second half was slow-paced, with many of the Qataris leaving towards the end as the Ecuadorian fans chanted “Ole!”

Qatar seemed largely toothless, despite the fact that we had bonded and trained together for an enviably long time, including at summer camps in Europe. Almoes Ali had the best chance late in the first half with a header but was then ruled offside.

Mohammed Muntari also fired in the dying minutes.

Qatar coach Felix Sanchez looked increasingly frustrated as his nervous players misplaced passes and allowed Ecuador to easily outplay them from front to back.

Both sides will now have to play Senegal and the Netherlands in the group stage, and Qatar’s chances of picking up points or qualifying look slim.

“Obviously it wasn’t what we hoped for,” Spain’s Sanchez said of Sunday’s tournament curtain-raiser.

“There is no excuse, I want to congratulate our rivals from Ecuador. There are many opportunities for improvement.

“We didn’t play at the best level. Maybe responsibility and nerves took over. We just have to let go and forget about it and be more competitive. We can do it.”

In their fourth World Cup, Ecuador will be dreaming of bettering their best finals result, when they reached the last 16 in 2006.

Coach Gustavo Alfaro will be happy his players put to rest the furor over defender Byron Castillo, who was left at home to avoid further controversy after they faced a possible exclusion following Chile’s appeal over his citizenship status.

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