Valencia double sees Ecuador cruise past Qatar in opener
Hosts The 2022 Fifa World Cup got off to a poor start for Qatar as they were humiliatingly defeated by Ecuador in Al Bayt.
A jittery and jumbled performance resulted in a Group A loss for Felix Sanchez’s team, who had been practicing together in camp for the past six months to be ready for the competition and work on strategy.
On paper, this should have been Qatar’s easiest game because Senegal, the defending winner of the Africa Cup of Nations, and the Netherlands, three-time runners-up, were yet to play.
Enner Valencia’s close-range header was disallowed by the video assistance referee for offside during the game’s thrilling beginning, but the South Americans went on to score soon after.
Valencia was fouled in the box by the unstable goalie of Qatar, Saad Al Sheeb, and he stepped up to score the penalty kick.
Before halftime, Valencia powered in another header to quiet the Al Bayt Stadium, making matters worse for the home team.
Many fans who had left the stadium at the break did not come back, leaving it about half empty for the majority of the second half.
With Romario Ibarra’s curling attempt being blocked by Al-Sheeb, it contributed to a dull atmosphere on and off the field.
With 20 minutes left, the team’s star players Almoez Ali and captain Hassan Al Haydos were both replaced, but they were unable to generate a shot on goal.
After a day filled with genuine excitement for the opening ceremony, Qatar’s goal of being the first host nation to lose the first game of the competition turned into a nightmare.
The 2019 Asian champions presented no threat in the final third and failed to put Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez to the test once.
In 2010, South Africa was the only host nation that failed to advance past the group stage; nevertheless, with two challenging games remaining, Qatar may become the second.
While this is going on, Ecuador has put themselves in a fantastic position to advance, extending their impressive recent form to one loss in 16 games and keeping a clean sheet in their previous seven games.