Qatar outclassed by Ecuador in 2022 World Cup opener – 5 talking points – ASAL SPORTS

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QATAR 0-2 ECUADOR: Enner Valencia scored twice in the first half after seeing a goal ruled out as the hosts were soundly beaten in the first game of the 2022 World Cup

Enner Valencia shone even brighter than the opening ceremony light show as Ecuador defeated hosts Qatar in the first game of the 2022 World Cup.

The former West Ham striker scored twice in the first half to put La Tricolor in charge against the tournament hosts after seeing a goal disallowed for offside just seconds into the match. Valencia rolled in a penalty with aplomb in the 16th minute after he was brought down in the area before powerfully heading home shortly after the half-hour mark.

Ecuador took their foot off the pedal in the second half against an opposition that struggled to create chances throughout the match. The result gives the South American nation a welcome boost in their bid to qualify from a challenging group also containing Netherlands and Senegal, while Qatar will need to produce something very special in their next two games to have any chance of progressing in their home World Cup.

Here are things we learned from Al Bayt Stadium.

Valencia VAR’d

Just minutes into the first game of the World Cup, fans witnessed what could prove to be the most baffling moment of the entire tournament.

Enner Valencia seemed to have scored the fastest opening goal in World Cup history (160 seconds) with a header after Michael Estrada’s acrobatic assist. However, a VAR check lasting many minutes resulted in the former West Ham forward’s goal being ruled out after Estrada was found to be offside.

There was huge confusion from those in the commentary box as well as fans on social media due to Saad Al Sheeb having come far off his line to try and punch the ball. The Qatar goalkeeper miscued and Estrada was able to cross to Valencia, but replays showed the former was in an offside position beyond the second-last outfield defender in the build-up.

Find out why the goal was ruled out here.

Enner extraordinaire
Enner Valencia’s agony soon turned to delight as Ecuador capitalised on their early dominance to take the lead after 16 minutes.

The Fenerbahce forward was played through on goal by Sebas Mendez and took the ball round Saad Al Sheeb before he was brought down by the Qatar No.1. Valencia showed a cool head from the penalty spot to find the bottom corner, and added his second just a quarter of an hour later.

This time, it was an inch-perfect cross from right-back Angelo Preciado which set up the Ecuador captain, who headed into the bottom corner with aplomb. The second goal prompted emphatic celebrations from the South American nation, underlining the gulf in class between the two sides, while many Qatar fans left at half-time.

READ ALSO : USMNT’s Tyler Adams earns the ‘Captain America’ armband in a very special way

However, there was concern for Ecuador towards the end of the fixture, when Valencia needed to be taken off with an apparent knee injury which he nursed for much of the match. He was seen with ice strapped to his leg after being subtituted.

Almoez Ali could not hide his despair after heading well wide of the target as Qatar’s best chance of the match went begging.

The forward got on the end of a brilliant cross from Hassan Al-Haydos and tried to glance his effort into the far corner but got it all wrong, only succeeding in brushing the ball far wide of Hernan Galindez’s goal. It proved to be an easy evening’s work for the Ecuador goalkeeper, as Qatar failed to register a shot on target, and mustered a meek total of five efforts.

Seagulls shine

In what was a comprehensive victory for Ecuador, there was plenty of interest for Premier League fans, especially those of Brighton.

There were three of Roberto De Zerbi’s players on show in the World Cup opener, and each gave a good account of himself. Pervis Estupinan had little to do defensively, such was Qatar’s toothlessness in attack, and will be pleased to kick off the tournament with a clean sheet.

Seagulls teammate Moises Caicedo, meanwhile, ran the show from midfield – even if he picked up an early booking – to show why he is being monitored by the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United. The duo were joined in the second half by substitute Jeremy Sarmiento, the 20-year-old winger who has made three Brighton appearances this season.

Born in Spain to Ecuadorian parents, Sarmiento moved to England as a child and represented them up to Under-18 level before switching allegiance to Ecuador last year. Against tiring Qatari legs, Sarmiento had plenty of joy between the lines and was the outlet his side needed to see out the remainder of the fixture.

A glance at Group A
Unfortunately for Qatar, their chances of reaching the knockout stage may already be over, given the quality of the two teams they still have to face.

Senegal and Netherlands face off in the next Group A game on Monday and the duo are the bookmakers’ favourites to progress to the last 16. As for Ecuador, they were impressive against an opposition they were clearly a level above, but they will need to be more clinical against Senegal and Netherlands if they are to pick up more valuable points and advance.

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