World Cup 2022: Valencia Scores Brace In Ecuador Win Against Qatar

Ecuador got off to a dream start as they eased past World Cup debutants Qatar, beating them 2-0 on Sunday with first-half goals from veteran striker Enner Valencia in a one-sided affair that was the first opening game defeat for a host nation in the tournament’s history.

Ecuador’s all-time top scorer, nicknamed “Superman” at home, scored an early penalty and added a well-taken 31st-minute header to give the South Americans a commanding first-half lead as the home side froze with the enormity of the occasion.

It could have been even worse for the Qataris in front of a 67,372 crowd at the tent-shaped Al Bayt stadium where they were kicking off the Middle East’s first World Cup.

Valencia had a third minute header disallowed for a marginal offside after shaky goalkeeper Saad Alsheeb flapped at the ball.

Ecuador kept pressing though and Valencia coolly dispatched a penalty in the 16th minute after Alsheeb had tripped him.

For his second, Valencia was unmarked but still showed great technique to stoop and take Angelo Preciado‘s cross almost from behind him to head past Alsheeb again.

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

“We managed to score a couple of quick goals which helped us to get control of the game … We think we can go very far and perform well.”

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

Things do not get easier for Qatar was they will face Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal next on Friday then round off Group A against the Netherlands on 29 November.