Hosts Qatar overwhelmed by Ecuador in opening World Cup match


Ecuador put two unanswered goals past Qatar for victory in the World Cup’s opening match.

World Cup hosts Qatar have had a disappointing start to their campaign, with a 2-0 defeat to Ecuador leaving them facing an uphill struggle to make it out of their group in their first-ever World Cup.

It looked like Qatar had conceded a goal within six minutes of kick-off in the match on Sunday evening at Al Bayt Stadium. But a header from Ecuador’s Enner Valencia, from a long-distance free-kick attempt from Pervis Estupinan close to the halfway line, was struck off by the video assistant referee (VAR) moments later.

But it was only a temporary reprieve for Qatar, playing in front of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, other Qatari royals, and several foreign leaders in a crowd of 60,000.

After just 15 minutes of play, Valencia was brought down in the box by Qatari goalkeeper Saad al-Sheeb and the referee pointed to the spot without hesitation. Slotting in the penalty to the right of the keeper, Valencia became Ecuador’s all-time highest World Cup goal scorer.

Fifteen minutes later, Valencia again found the net – doubling Ecuador’s advantage with a header from a cross from just outside the box on the right.

With half an hour gone, Qatar were two-nil down, and had not even had a touch of the ball in the Ecuadorian box.

The hosts settled as half-time approached, but could manage to convert comfort into much meaningful attacking play in the second half.

An 86th-minute effort from Mohammed Muntari almost set Al Bayt alight when he received a long ball and tried to beat the keeper with a volley, only to have the ball landed on top of the netting.

More to follow.

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