Hosts beaten as controversial FIFA World Cup gets underway

Qatar v Ecuador – FIFA World Cup – Al Bayt Stadium – Report

Qatar 0-2 Ecuador 

The twenty-second World Cup tournament began with a resounding 2-0 win for Ecuador over Qatar at the Al Bayat Stadium, with both goals scored by captain Enner Valencia.

Qatar made history by becoming the first host nation in the history of the competition to lose their opening match and in truth, they were completely overrun and easily beaten by Ecuador, with the 2-0 score-line barely reflecting the gulf in class between the two sides.

The game opened most dramatically when following goalkeeper Al Sheeb’s hesitancy in the box, Valencia’s header looked to have given Ecuador the lead with only 160 seconds on the clock and although referee Daniele Orsato initially awarded the goal, following consultation with VAR, this was ruled out after Michael Estrada was shown to have been offside.

With Ecuador totally dominating the game, it seemed only a matter of time until they opened the scoring and their pressure finally paid off in the sixteenth minute, when Al Sheeb brought down Valencia in the box with the former West Ham and Everton striker then coolly despatching the resultant penalty low into the right-hand corner to put his team 1-0 up.

After just half an hour, unmarked Valencia scored again when he showed great technique to stoop and head home Angelo Preciado’s cross to make it 2-0 to Ecuador and effectively end the game as a contest. Qatar barely threatened thereafter and did not manage a shot on target during the whole match.

With their team struggling so badly, many Qatar fans chose to leave the ground with the second half being played out at a slow pace in front of a half-empty, subdued stadium.

Both teams now go forward to play Senegal and the Netherlands in the group stage and whilst Ecuador will be looking to better their previous best showing at a World Cup by reaching the last sixteen, based on this performance Qatar’s prospects of progressing or even picking up any points at all from their next two games would appear remote.

Qatar: Al Sheeb, Carvalho Deus Correia, Al Rawi, Khoukhi, Al Haj Fadlalla, Ahmed, Al Haydos (Jadoua Al Bayatiat 71′) Boudiaf, Mohammed Abdullah, Abdulla (Muntari 72′) Afif Subs not used: Odeh, Abdelmotaal, Thaimn Qambar, Djebril Mohamed, Mohammad, Mazeed, Al Hajri, Ali, Barsham, Al Haj Madibo, Al Hadhrami, Abdulsallam, Meshaal

Ecuador:  Galíndez, Preciado, Torres, Hincapié, Estupiñán, Plata, Méndez, Caicedo (Franco 90′) Ibarra (Sarmient 68′) E Valencia (Cifuentes 77′) Estrada (Rodríguez 90′) Subs not used: Arboleda, Pacho, Gruezo, Preciado, Ramírez, Arreaga, Mena, Palacios, Reasco, Porozo, Rodríguez

Referee: Daniele Orsato 

Assistants: Ciro Carbone and Alessandro Giallatini.

VAR: Massimiliano Irrati and Paolo Valeri

Attendance: 67,372