Enner Valencia scored a first half brace as Ecuador opened the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 win over Qatar, the hosts, at the Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday.
Following a colourful opening ceremony, Valencia opened his account with two expertly taken goals that made the Fenerbahce forward the record World Cup goalscorer for his country.
Qatar, playing their first-ever World Cup match, endured a jittery first half and conceded in the third minute following poor play from their goalkeeper but the video assistant referee (VAR) saved the hosts by ruling Valencia’s header offside.
Ecuador would eventually take the lead in the 16th minute through Valencia who was brought down by Al-Sheeb and the veteran striker dusted himself up to dispatch the spot-kick with aplomb.
The 35-year-old completed his brace with a well-executed downward header into the bottom far post half an hour into the game.
Qatar were under the cosh for most of the half but nearly got a goal at the end, with Almoez Ali getting on the end of a cross but headed well off target as Ecuador went into the interval with a two-goal lead.
The second half was a more balanced affair but neither side added to the scoreboard as Ecuador, who have not conceded a goal since March 2022, claimed their fourth-ever World Cup win.
Courtesy of the defeat, Qatar became the first World Cup hosts to lose the opening match.
Ecuador will face the Netherlands next in Group A, while Qatar will meet Senegal on November 25 at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha.