Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated
EDITOR’s NOTE: Elevated Media does not condone the conditions in which the World Cup came together nor is our coverage acceptance of the outdated viewpoints of Qatari leaders.
Enner Valencia scored two goals for Ecuador as La Tri knocked off the host nation Qatar, 2-0 to open the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is the first time in World Cup history that the host nation lost the opening World Cup match.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Qatar on Sunday as the host nation took on Ecuador in the opening World Cup match in November and in an Arab nation.
Nerves were high for Qatar early on as they played shaky football to begin the World Cup.
Three minutes in, it appeared that Qatar conceded the fastest opening goal in World Cup history. Ecuador defender Felix Torres laid out an incredible bicycle kick pass to striker Enner Valencia, who headed the ball toward the back of the net.
However, after a VAR check with precise technology, the goal was disallowed for offsides.
Ecuador continued to put pressure on a struggling Qatar squad with a relentless attack. In the 16th minute, Valencia got his second chance to score a goal as he drew a penalty from Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.
Valencia buried the penalty with a cheeky finish on Al Sheeb’s left side to give Ecuador a 1-0 lead.
Ecuador continued to be on the front foot as the talent gap between the two sides was very apparent. In the 31st minute, La Tri right-back Angelo Preciado’s cross took a deflection off striker Michael Estrada. Then, Valencia, who was right next to Estrada, blasted a header past Al Sheeb for Ecuador’s second goal of the first half.
Qatar had one chance at end of the first match, but winger Hassan Al-Haydos’ cross for Almoez Ali produced no shot attempt and the hosts went into the halftime break down 2-0.
The host nation was placed with more discipline and urgency in the second half. Ecuador had few chances to score as Qatar pushed to get on the score sheet. They failed to do so despite forwards Akram Afif and Ali (top scorer in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup) trying to find a goal from long-range.
Their best chance came in the 86th minute as Mohammed Muntari nearly caught La Tri goalkeeper Hernan Galindez napping with a long volley attempt on the long pass, but it did not dip down enough to go under the crossbar.
Ecuador came away with the opening victory, their first World Cup victory since June 20, 2014 when Valencia had a brace in a 2-1 win over Honduras. With 11 players on the squad under 23 years old, La Tri has shown them qualifying over Chile, Colombia and Peru was no fluke in CONMEBOL. With their midfield, Ecuador could be a tough out for Senegal and the Netherlands going forward.
Qatar, who won the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and reached the semifinals of the 2021 Gold Cup, looked flat and dazed under the bright lights. They looked sloppy in the first half and simply did not have the firepower and talent to overcome a 2-0 deficit. With the loss, it will now be an uphill climb to make an impact as the host nation.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will continue on Fox Sports 1 on Monday as England will open its World Cup journey against Iran at 8:00 a.m. EST in the United States.