Football

FIFA World Cup 2022: Ecuador wins opening game

The first winner of the 2022 World Cup is Ecuador. The South Americans showed Qatar their limits in the opening game, striker Enner Valencia became the hosts' nightmare.

Qatar started the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 defeat by Ecuador. Coach Felix Sanchez’s team, which had been preparing for the tournament for two months, was inferior to the South Americans in every respect and will have to improve significantly as the tournament progresses. Player of the match was Enner Valencia, who tied a brace (16th/31st minute).

VAR helps Qatar

The first game of the most controversial World Cup of all time started with a tricky VAR decision. After the supposedly early opening goal for Ecuador by Valencia (3rd), the video assistant intervened and reported an offside position in the creation of the goal. Difficult to see, but ultimately correct and good news for Qatar keeper Saad Al Sheeb. He had previously missed the ball several times.

Enner Valencia becomes a host fright

However, the Qatar goalkeeper did not do much better after about 15 minutes: after a good ball from deep Al Sheeb knocked Ecuador’s attacker Valencia off his feet from the penalty spot. The man who was fouled started himself and gave the South Americans the well-deserved lead. Ecuador made the game and kept showing nice combinations. Little or nothing came from the overwhelmed World Cup host.

And the clear superiority was also reflected in the result before the break: Valencia, who posed major problems for the Qatari defense almost continuously, made it 2-0 with a nice header and thus made the preliminary decision. And Qatar? At least shot on goal once. However, Abdelkarim Hassan’s attempt flew in the direction of the upper tier (33rd). Almoez Ali also headed wide of the goal from an offside position in stoppage time.

Qatar remains harmless

Not much changed even after the change of sides. Ecuador remained decisive in the game and repeatedly created smaller and larger chances with simple means. The only drawback: due to a lack of accuracy and determination in the last third, nothing changed on the scoreboard. Qatar remained in the game, at least in theory, but in practice the hosts remained too harmless up front and too vulnerable at the back throughout the season. The Qataris’ most dangerous move came from Akram Afif, but his shot also went wide of the target (75′).

In the final phase, in which the ranks were getting empty and the game was getting weaker and weaker, the Ecuadorians largely limited themselves to securing the lead and conserving their strength. The quality of the game dropped significantly, there was no more tension until the final whistle. Ecuador’s victory – the first defeat by a World Cup host in an opening match – was never in serious jeopardy.

Valencia is limping off the pitch

There was still a moment of shock for Ecuador: double goal scorer Valencia, who had already been treated in the first half, had to be replaced due to injury (76th). The player of the match limped off the pitch. His failure would be a bitter loss, but the diagnosis has not yet been made.

Qatar face Senegal in Matchday 2 on Friday and are already under a lot of pressure while Ecuador take on the Netherlands.

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