The Qatar World Cup had already created plenty of atmosphere by the time hosts met Ecuador last Sunday in the opening match, and the match certainly managed to live up to such an atmosphere. An early Ecuador goal was chalked off by VAR, leading many to quickly suggest a suspicion of match fixing.
A lot of people had already pointed the finger at Qatari officials, accusing them of potentially bribing Ecuador players in order to allow them to win the game. This rumour was quickly quashed however, as the hosts seemed somewhat out of their depth against a strong Ecuador side.
Two first half goals scored by former Everton and West Ham forward Enner Valencia gave Ecuador a strong lead at half time. The second half provided little entertainment, with Ecuador doing enough to claim a 2-0 victory and their first three points of the tournament.
Qatar had looked rather weak prior to this World Cup, having had little experience in previous major tournaments. This proved to be visible on the pitch, as they couldn’t handle the pace and technicality of Ecuador’s forward players.
Many had considered Ecuador to be potential dark horses coming into this tournament, and this first game proved that nobody should write off the South Americans just yet. Their other group stage opponents are a rather strong looking Dutch side and Senegal, who come into the tournament without injured star player Sadio Mane.
Ecuador will need to build on such a strong start if they’re to progress, and many will be likely to back them following Sunday’s result.