The World Cup kicked off with Qatar hosting Ecuador in the curtain-raiser. Since 2006, the host nations play the opening match and this game also marked Qatar’s debut in the World Cup.
Qatar had never lost at the Al Bayt stadium up to this date but were outplayed by a far superior Ecuadorian team. Qatar became the first World Cup host to lose their opening match in the entire history of the World Cup.
Ecuador dominated the match from the kick-off and 33-year-old striker Enner Valencia had the ball in the net as early as the 3rd minute. Unfortunately, the goal was ruled out by VAR for an offside in the build-up.
However, in the 16th minute the deadlock was broken when Valencia won a penalty and converted it. He doubled Ecuador’s tally in the 31st minute with a well-placed header. Qatar offered little to no resistance to Ecuador in the first half.
They did however improve in the second half but were unable to break down the stubborn Ecuador defence. Qatar will now hope they perform better and get a result against African champions, Senegal to stay in the competition.
Ecuador will be hoping that Valencia is fully fit for their crunch game versus Group A favourites, Netherlands next as he limped off in the 75th minute. A win there will guarantee Ecuador a spot in the next round.