Spending 12 years training for their tournament appearance, Qatar won’t think back on it with much pleasure. After a lackluster performance in the 2022 World Cup opener against Ecuador on Sunday, the South Americans cruised to a 2-0 victory thanks to a pair of goals from Enner Valencia in the first half.
Valencia crushes Qatar
Valencia’s header, which could have been the earliest goal ever scored in the opening game of a WorldCup22, was disallowed because he was offside two minutes into the game.
Although the Qataris enjoyed some relief, it was only momentary. A little over 10 minutes later, Fenerbahce’s Valencia was hauled to the ground in the Qatar box by goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb, and the forward calmly converted the ensuing penalty. This marks the first instance that a penalty has been the opening goal in a World Cup.
Valencia scored another goal for Ecuador with a beautiful header just before halftime. The 33-year-old striker got his head on a cross from Angelo Preciado on the right and buried a low shot into Al Sheeb’s right corner. Moments like these shouldn’t be missed and we have our World Cup 2022 free livestream to thank for that.
The closest Qatar scored was a Mohammed Muntari attempt with the clock going out at Al Bayt. The sub pounced on a lengthy clearing and unleashed a booming shot that sailed narrowly over Hernan Galindez’s crossbar.
Player of the game: Enner Valencia
Nobody should be surprised by the winner’s identity: Due in large part to Valencia’s two-goal performance, Ecuador now has a very good chance of advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals for the 2nd time in the team’s history.
He has scored Ecuador’s last five World Cup-clinching goals. In their previous tournament appearance, in Brazil in 2014, he scored all three of the team’s goals. Until Valencia, the last player to score for Ecuador in a World Cup was Ivan Kaviedes, who did so in a 3-0 group-stage triumph over Costa Rica in Germany in 2006.
According to Opta, only three players have ever scored more than two in a row for their World Cup squad. For Portugal, Oleg Salenko scored six, and for Russia, Paolo Rossi scored six.
When he scored twice against Qatar, Valencia became Ecuador’s all-time leading scorer in the World Cup. He entered the finals in Qatar tied with Agustin Delgado, a player in both the 2002 and 2006 championships, on three goals each.
Avoiding an early exit, Qatar has no choice but to push
However, standing with 151 odds versus Qatar’s 251, Ecuador appears to be Qatar’s most manageable Group A opponent. You can check our complete World Cup betting odds 2022 for both teams and the rest. Maroons play Senegal, the current African champions, this coming Friday before taking on the Netherlands, the group’s top team, on Tuesday.
Since the World Cup began with a group stage in 1950, only one host country (South Africa in 2010) has been eliminated before the semifinals. It will be very difficult for Qatar to avoid being the second.
Meanwhile, Ecuador will face the Dutch this coming Friday, and then play Senegal 4 days later in a game that might very well decide who advances to the round of 16.
Qatar v Ecuador final score
With two goals from Enner Valencia, Ecuador dominated the opening match of the FIFA World Cup and defeated hosts Qatar, 2-0. In the first half, the South Americans dominated the game and totally outplayed Qatar.
Two fantastic headers led to goals; the first was a penalty. Thus, Qatar made history as the first ever World Cup host to fail the tournament’s opening match.
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