Qatar became the first host nation in the history of the World Cup to lose their opening game at the tournament, after they were defeated 2-0 by fellow Group A members, Ecuador. 2 goals from Enner Valencia were enough to send the Ecuadorians top of Group A with Senegal and Netherlands still to play.
Ecuador were dominant from the on-set and Qatar just couldn’t get a foot in, and Valencia opened the scoring for his nation (Ecuador) inside 3 minutes, only for the goal to ruled out for an offside in the build-up. Qatar were being dominated in every department of play and just couldn’t get going, looking more likely to concede by the minute. Their resilience faded in the 16th minute when Qatari goalkeeper Al Sheeb illegally brought down Valencia in the penalty area and the referee, who had a clear view of the action pointed to the spot. Enner Valencia, the Ecuador captain stepped up to take the spotkick and calmly slotted the ball in the bottom corner to make it 1-0 to Ecuador and open the scoring of this World Cup campaign, with no goal being ruled out this time.
Half an hour into the game at 31 minutes, it was Valencia once again in the fray, scoring a very brilliant header to double his tally (would’ve been a hattrick). The cross was beautifully placed to the far post by Angelo Preciado and the Ecuadorian captain made no mistake placing the header into the bottom left corner to double Ecuador’s lead. The score line now accurately illustrated the difference in quality between the two sides and the half ended with Qatar yet to trouble Galindez’s goal and Ecuador 2-0 in front.
The 2nd half showed a much better display from the hosts and they were pushing to get back into the game but unfortunately for them the Ecuadorians showed strong resilience to maintain the lead and finish the game in front. Qatar ended the match with 5 shots in total and none of them being on target, while Ecuador finished with 3 of their 6 attempts being on target. Qatar are the first ever World Cup hosts in history to lose the opening match of the tournament, and now they currently sit bottom of Group A after the 2-0 loss to Ecuador, while the South Americans top the standings. Enner Valencia’s brace and dominant performance earned him the first Man of the Match award of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Group A matches resume today when Senegal face Netherlands in a clash that is sure to be entertaining to the crowds around the world. Senegal will be without star man Sadio Mane up front (ruled out due to injury), while the Dutch will be without their threat up front in Memphis Depay (injured), but a win for the Dutch side should be expected. Before Group A games conclude, England will kick-off their World Cup campaign against Iran in their Group B fixture, in a game where England should be comfortable favourites and expected to stroll to victory. To close off the day’s fixtures, Wales will be concluding Group B’s first-round matches when they take on the USA in one of the trickiest ties of the opening games, and given the similar quality of these 2 sides, it really can go either way but both teams can be expected to score.