The first of the 64 matches of the 2022 FIFA World Cup taking place in Qatar ended with the host nation losing to Ecuador, one of the countries representing South America.
Enner Valencia was the hero as Ecuador beat Qatar 2-0 at the Al Bayt Stadium to make a flying start to their Group A campaign at this FIFA World Cup.
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The 33-year-old Fenerbahçe of Turkey player had an early goal ruled out for offside by VAR, he responded by winning and scoring a penalty and then doubling the advantage with a firm header.
15 minutes into the first half, Valencia raced through on goal following a through pass by a teammate, dribbled past the Qatari keeper, Saad Alsheeb, who then tripped him.
The Referee awarded a penalty, which the Fenerbahce striker picked himself up and calmly slotted it into the net from the spot, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. It was a display of real nerve on the biggest of stages.
In the 31st minute, Valencia doubled Ecuador’s lead as he connected cleanly to Angelo Preciado cross to nod the ball into the bottom corner.
Qatar, roared on by their magnificent supporters, did their best to find a way back into the game. But the normally reliable Almoez Ali missed a gilt-edged chance – a header from six yards out – after excellent work from Hassan Alhaydos.
Valencia has scored Ecuador’s last five World Cup goals. He is now their outright record marksman at the global showpiece – a distinction he previously shared with Agustin Delgado.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur