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Qatar 0-2 Ecuador: Enner Valencia at the double as hosts lose World Cup opener for first time

Jeffrey Monkhouse

Updated: Nov 21, 2022 08:23

Qatar 0-2 Ecuador: Enner Valencia at the double as hosts lose World Cup opener for first time

valencia

Qatar became the first host nation to lose the opening game of a World Cup as Ecuador kicked off the tournament with a dominant 2-0 victory thanks to Enner Valencia's double.

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Match report as former West Ham and Everton striker Enner Valencia strikes twice in opening game of 2022 World Cup; Qatar become first-ever host nation to lose opening match of a World Cup.

valencia

Enner Valencia celebrates after scoring his second goal

Focus shifted to the playing field as Qatar 2022 got underway after months of controversy in the run-up to the competition, but there was no solace for the hosts because they were utterly outplayed during their first-ever World Cup encounter.

Ecuador captain Valencia made history by scoring the game's opening goal from the penalty spot (16) after having a third-minute header disallowed for offside. He then added a magnificent headed second to bring his total of World Cup finals goals to five (31).

Gustavo Alfaro's team began their World Cup journey with an easy victory and sixth straight clean sheet to climb top of Group A. Ecuador let off the throttle in the second half, but Qatar was unable to respond in any way.

Big moments in the game...

3 mins: Enner Valencia heads in opener only to have effort ruled out for offside after lengthy VAR check.

16 mins: Enner Valencia scores first goal of Qatar 2022 from penalty spot after being fouled by goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb.

31 mins: Enner Valencia doubles his and Ecuador’s lead with towering header – his fifth goal at a World Cup finals.

43 mins: Valencia jars knee but plays on for an additional 30 minutes before succumbing to his injury.

45+5: Almoez Ali heads Qatar’s best chance wide in first-half stoppage time

Hosts Qatar outclassed by Ecuador in World Cup opener...

After an energetic opening ceremony, which featured Hollywood great Morgan Freeman and South Korean popstar Jung Kook, FIFA president Gianni Infantino declared, "let the show begin", but Qatar could not have got off to a worse start.

A lengthy VAR review revealed an offside that wasn't first obvious, but the Qatari relief was fleeting. Valencia put Ecuador in front after only three minutes of play following goalkeeper Saad Al-clumsy Sheeb's punched clearance.

Al-Sheeb, the goalkeeper, hesitated to challenge Valencia as he drove into the area, which led to him carelessly tripping the Ecuadorian striker. Valencia then picked himself up, stepped up, and casually stroked in the resulting penalty, marking the first time a penalty has opened the scoring at a World Cup.

qatar-0-2-ecuador

Enner Valencia coolly slots Ecuador ahead from the penalty spot

Just after the half-hour mark, Valencia stooped to head Angelo Preciado's cross emphatically into the Qatar net for his and Ecuador's second, emphasizing the difference in quality between the two teams.

After hyperextending his knee late in the first half, Valencia's game appeared to be over before it even began, but he would go on to play another 30 rather uneventful minutes until succumbing to the injury.

muntari

Mohammed Muntari rues a missed chance

The hosts were limited to long-range attempts after the break, with shots from Akram Afif and Mohammed Muntari giving Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez something to think about. Almoez Ali missed a glorious opportunity to halve the deficit on the stroke of halftime, glancing Qatar's only credible chance wide from seven yards.

However, the hosts made up for their lack of offensive production with a determined defensive effort in the second half that stopped Ecuador from causing further embarrassment. Unfortunately, this was not enough to prevent Qatar from making unpleasant World Cup history.

ecuador

Ecuador players celebrate Enner Valencia's goal against Qatar

Unwanted World Cup history for hosts Qatar - Opta stats

Qatar have become the first host nation to lose their opening game at that edition of the World Cup (W16 D6 before today).

Ecuador have kept a clean sheet in each of their last seven matches in all competitions (W3 D4), with Argentina's Julián Álvarez the last player to score against them back in March.

Ecuador scored twice in the first half of a World Cup match for the first time. This is the second time in their four appearances at the World Cup they've won their opening match, with the other also being 2-0 (against Poland in 2006).

There were just 11 shots in this game (5 for Qatar, 6 for Ecuador) - no World Cup match on record (since 1966) has seen fewer attempts.

Ecuador's opener was the first time in World Cup history that the opening goal at a single edition of the tournament was scored from the penalty spot.

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