The wait came to an end as Qatar kicked off World Cup proceedings. Unfortunately for the host nation, it wasn’t the way they wanted to start things off.
Ecuador spoiled the party as the South American side won 2-0 thanks to a brace by Enner Valencia.
The Ecuadorian captain easily could have had a hat-trick as he appeared to open the scoring just three minutes in. However, the celebrations would be cut short as an offside in the lead-up to Valencia’s header was called by VAR.
Ecuador continued on the front foot and would be rewarded 12 minutes later as Valencia was taken down by the Qatari goalkeeper for a penalty. A calm, cool and collected Valencia guided the ball to the left of the keeper to put his team in front.
The run of play stayed the same with Ecuador looking for a second, taking full advantage of a Qatar side who simply couldn’t get ahold of the ball.
In the 31st minute, Valencia doubled his team’s lead with a strong header from a cross from the right flank with the Qatar defense completely losing their mark.
Ecuador seemed to take their foot off the gas in the second half as they didn’t create as many opportunities as they did in the opening 45 minutes. Some of that had to do with Qatar finally getting into the game and showing something in the attack.
Despite that, Qatar could only muster half chances.
Valencia was unable to get his hat-trick as he came off midway through the second half due to an injury he picked up earlier in the game. While it didn’t appear to be anything serious, Ecuador played it safe, thinking ahead to their next match.
The loss for Qatar marked the first time the host nation lost the opener of a World Cup in the tournament’s history.
Group A finishes its first round of games tomorrow when the Netherlands take on Senegal.