By Chris King • 20 November 2022 • 20:16
In what was an embarrassing defeat for the host nation this afternoon, Sunday, November 20, the 2022 Qatar World Cup kicked off in the Al Bayt stadium. Ecuador totally outplayed Felix Sanchez’s side in this opening fixture, leaving them already in a very difficult position in Group A.
With games coming up against the three-time finalists the Netherlands, and Senegal, the Africa Cup of Nations champions, today’s match, at least on paper, was without a doubt Qatar’s easiest. Six months of preparation in camp together for the tournament did very little to aid their performance.
Enner Valencia was the star of the show for the South Americans. The former West Ham striker – now playing for Süper Lig club Fenerbahçe in Turkey – headed the ball beyond Qatar’s keeper Saad Al Sheeb and into the net from close range inside the opening few minutes. A VAR check ruled it as offside though.
It didn’t take Ecuador long to get on the scoresheet after Valencia was taken down in the box by Al Sheeb in the 16th minute. The forward tucked the subsequent penalty home to put his team ahead. Valencia stunned the home fans into total silence when he powered home his second with a header 15 minutes later.
By the time the second half started the stadium had vast sections of empty seats that had been vacated by fans leaving the ground during the break. The following 45 minutes turned into a very humbling experience for the hosts who didn’t even have one shot on goal.
Saad Al Sheeb stopped his team from going three down when he pushed out a curling effort from Liga MX club Pachuca’s Romario Ibarra. Felix Sanchez substituted both of his star players. His captain Hassan Al Haydos, along with Almoez Ali, were both replaced with 20 minutes of the match remaining.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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