Ecuador put two unanswered goals past Qatar to win their World Cup opener.
World Cup holders Qatar got off to a disappointing start, with a 2-0 defeat against Ecuador leaving them facing a huge challenge to get out of their group in their first World Cup.
It looked like Qatar had conceded a goal within six minutes of the match on Sunday evening at the Al Bayt Stadium. But Ecuador’s Enner Valencia’s header, a long-range effort from Pervis Estupinan near the halfway line, was deflected by the video assistant referee (VAR) after some time.
But it was a temporary relief for Qatar, playing in front of the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, other Qatari royals, and several foreign leaders in a crowd of 60,000.
Just 15 minutes into the game, Valencia was brought down in the box by Qatari midfielder Saad al-Sheeb and the referee pointed to the spot without hesitation. By scoring to the right of the goalkeeper, Valencia became Ecuador’s all-time leading scorer in the World Cup.
Fifteen minutes later, Valencia found the net again – doubling Ecuador’s advantage with a header from a cross from outside the box on the right.
Half an hour later, Qatar were almost down, and had not even touched the ball in the Ecuadorian box.
The players settled down as half time approached, but were able to turn their composure into a more attacking game in the second half.
An 86th minute effort from Mohammed Muntari almost ignited Al Bayt when he received a long ball and tried to beat the keeper with a volley, but the ball fell into the top of the net.
Lots to follow.