Qatar became the first home team to lose their World Cup opener with a 2-0 win over hosts Ecuador. The end of Valencia Sunday scored twice in the curtain-raiser of the tournament. Asian champions Qatar enjoyed the majority of the crowd’s support at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium, but could not follow up a dazzling opening ceremony with a statement performance. Ecuador thought they had a dream start when they silenced the home fans as Valencia went ahead, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside in the build-up.
Valencia broke the deadlock with a 16th-minute penalty and doubled their tally just after the half-hour mark.
Qatar improved slightly in the second half, but by the end of the 90 minutes, the excitement that had greeted the build-up — featuring Morgan Freeman and BTS star Jung Kook — was a distant memory as thousands of fans were too early to soak up the atmosphere.
Felix Sanchez’s Qatar may need a positive result in their second Group A match against Senegal on Friday to avoid the ignominy of becoming only the second hosts since a first round exit after South Africa in 2010.
There was hope among spectators that Qatar could make a winning start, but the shortcomings of the World Cup debut were brutally exposed by an impressive Ecuador.
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Qatar failed to muster a single shot on target in the game, with the crowd storming out of the stands long before the final whistle.
In the tournament’s 92-year history, the home nations had previously won 16 and drawn 6 of their opening matches.
– Early VAR intervention –
The South Americans found the back of the net within three minutes when captain Valencia nodded home Felix Torres’ errant overhead kick.
VAR officials called an offside against Michael Estrada after Torres challenged Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Shib for the ball.
Ecuador were completely dominant in the early game though and were awarded a penalty after being tripped by Al Shiv as Valencia scored.
The former West Ham forward calmly sent Al Shiv the wrong way from the spot and stroked the ball into the bottom corner for his 36th international goal.
Ecuador did not have to wait long to double their advantage as, after a surging run by Moises Caicedo, right-back Angelo Preciado swung in a cross which Valencia met with a thumping header.
Even a small section of noticeably enthusiastic Qatari supporters behind the goal, who had come together after most of the crowd and wore matching T-shirts, were briefly silent.
Almoez Ali, the hero of Qatar’s 2019 Asian Cup success, should have pulled one back on the stroke of half-time but could only manage a free header from eight yards out.
Ecuador allowed Qatar more of the ball after the break but still looked the more dangerous side Romario A diving save from Al Shib brings Eibar.
Valencia intercepted in the 77th minute after being on the wrong end of a series of heavy challenges, although it shed some light on a famous night for Ecuador.
When the official attendance of 67,372 was read out, the stadium was barely half full.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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