The World Cup sees a bumpy start as former Everton and West Ham striker Enner Valencia scores a stunning brace despite VAR ruling out the opening goal in Ecuador’s win over the Qatar
The 2022 World Cup began with a breathless 30 minutes as former Everton and West Ham striker Enner Valencia took center stage in Ecuador’s 2-0 win over the Qatar.
Host country Qatar, with no previous World Cup pedigree, received a baptism of fire as Ecuador came from the blocks.
With less than five minutes on the clock, the Valencia captain thought he had given the South Americans an early lead after some questionable defending from the Middle Eastern minnows – and an even more alarming goalkeeper from Saad Al Sheeb.
However, VAR stepped in to save Qatar’s blushes as an Ecuadorian player’s knee was slightly offside.
The decision initially caused confusion as the player was not fully visible to television cameras and the goalkeeper acted as the penultimate defender.
It didn’t matter much, in the end, as Valencia put Ecuador ahead moments later.
The former Premier League striker was brought down by Al Sheeb inside the box and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to convert the resulting penalty on 15 minutes.
Speaking on a commentary for talkSPORT, former striker Dean Ashton said: “You can tell he’s got experience, you can tell he’s played in a World Cup before because it was a really cool penalty…they deserve it, Ecuador.
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“It was a great start to the game, the energy that Ecuador showed was great. They have a really good feeling.
Valencia became Ecuador’s all-time World Cup top scorer – and they weren’t done yet.
The 33-year-old doubled his country’s lead with an outrageous 30th-minute header.
Ashton added: “The cross was just stunning but Valencia’s header was clinical, it didn’t give the goalkeeper a chance.”
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