Having been one of the favourites, it was disappointing to see Qatar falter in its World Cup opener against Ecuador. Ecuador has shown that it can keep a clean sheet in six straight matches, which has left Qatar in a vulnerable position.
Ecuador came into the match on a winning run of five friendly matches, which have been played without a defeat. Their recent record against South American giants Argentina and Brazil was a mixed bag, but they showed some promise. Ecuador defeated Iraq 2-0 in their last friendly match and has kept a clean sheet in each of their last six games. They have also not conceded a goal in any of their six matches in World Cup warm-ups.
Ecuador jumped to an early lead in the first half thanks to a goal scored by Enner Valencia. He scored two goals in the match, including one from the penalty spot. He also had an assist. But Valencia hasn’t had the best time of it so far, as he was injured in the match and is receiving treatment.
Ecuador had a chance to score early when right wing back Ibarra made a good cross for Miguel. The ball bounced just inside the area, but the ball did not reach the net. Then, it was Miguel’s turn to make a decent connection. From about 15 yards, Miguel sent a good ball to the back post where Estupinan napped. His shot was at a good height but went wide.
Ecuador also had a chance in the first half when Ibarra was denied by Al Sheeb, who made a smart save. However, he was out of his ground when the ball was eventually scored. Then, in the last minute of the first half, a cross from the Qatar right wing was headed over the bar.
Then, in the second half, Ecuador were finally given a chance to score. They had the ball in the Qatar penalty area with a few seconds left. But Al Sheeb was out of his ground when the ball was crossed into the box. In the ensuing scramble, Ecuador’s captain Rafael Valencia had to hyperextend his knee when he tried to skip past Al Sheeb. However, the most memorable moment in the game came when a video-replay decision allowed the ball to cross the line and a celebration ensued.
The goal prompted a chorus of cheers from the Ecuador crowd. It was the first time the country’s fans had seen their team score in a World Cup game. However, they also chanted “oles” at the same time.
In addition to Valencia’s goals, Ecuador’s right wing back Estupinan had a good run up the field. He crossed for Miguel, who made a decent connection. The ball bounced just inside the area, and Miguel had a shot at the back post. His shot was at a good height, but the ball was just too low.
In the end, Ecuador beat Qatar 1-0, and the team managed to pull off the first win of the 2022 World Cup. They will play Group A rival Senegal next.