Qatar World Cup roars to life

The Herald

Doha. — Ecuador eased past World Cup debutants Qatar 2-0 on Sunday with two goals from veteran striker Enner Valencia in a 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 Qataris looked overcome by the enormity of the occasion.

It could have been even worse for the hosts in front of a 67 372 crowd at the tent-shaped Al Bayt stadium had Valencia, 33, not had a third minute header disallowed for a marginal offside after goalkeeper Saad Alsheeb had flapped at the ball.

It was Alsheeb who later tripped Valencia when he was through on goal and then dived the wrong way as the Ecuadorean coolly dispatched the resulting penalty in the 16th minute.

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.

That goal killed the Group A game as a contest and the second half was played at a slow pace, with many Qataris leaving before the end as Ecuador’s fans chanted “Ole!”

Despite an enviously long time to bond and train together, including summer camps in Europe, Qatar looked largely toothless. Almoez Ali had their best chance at the end of the first half, heading wide but then judged offside. Mohammed Muntari also fired over in the dying minutes.

Both sides now have to play Senegal and the Netherlands in the group stage, with Qatar’s chances of picking up points or qualifying looking slim on this performance.

Ecuador are dreaming of surpassing their best ever previous World Cup showing when they reached the last 16 in 2006.

Captain Enner Valencia extended his cult status in Ecuador to wider international acclaim with a first-half brace that propelled the South Americans to a comfortable 2-0 win over hosts Qatar in the opening game of the World Cup on Sunday.

The 33-year-old attacker, nicknamed Superman, increased his record tally of goals for Ecuador to 37 and also became the country’s highest-scoring player in the World Cup as his double at the Al Bayt Stadium added to the three he scored in 2014.

A 16th-minute penalty on Sunday, nonchalantly stroked into the corner of the goal, was followed by an accurate glancing header, propelled with power past the Qatari goalkeeper, in the 31st minute.

Valencia, the only player in the 2022 Ecuador squad from their last World Cup appearance eight years ago, might well have scored the quickest goal in the opening game of a World Cup when he had the ball in the back of the net in the third minute but it was ruled out for offside after a VAR check.

“He’s our greatest player. These goals today in the opening of a World Cup make him the best for all Ecuadoreans,” said Victor López, an 18-year-old fan from the city of Ibarra in north Ecuador watching the game on a giant screen in a shopping mall.

Valencia, who was taken off for the last 15 minutes of Sunday’s group A game, has had a decade-long career in the Ecuador side, starting off as a winger but being converted to a striker in the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.

He moved to West Ham United in a 12-million pound ($14.26 million) deal after the tournament in Brazil. After two seasons with the London side, he endured an uninspiring loan spell at Everton.

Valencia is now with Fenerbahce and in rich scoring form. His 13 league goals this season have put him top of the scoring charts in Turkey. It was the fourth time in the last five World Cups that a player scored a double in the opening game of a tournament after Germany’s Miroslav Klose (2006), Neymar of Brazil (2014) and Russian striker Denis Cheryshev in 2018. — supersport.

Source link

Denial of responsibility! planetcirculate is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.